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Global Director Yield Strategy | Research

Deal IDs: The Good, The Bad, And The…Alternative

Improve Digital, Staff Blog, Blog, Tech company, Programmatic

At Improve Digital we have noticed an interesting pattern emerging over recent months. Deal ID, which has been in circulation within the programmatic space for the past two years now, is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation among our publisher clients, demand partners, agencies and friends in the media. However, despite Deal ID’s elevation to buzzword of the moment, it’s pretty clear that there is some confusion over what it actually is, why it should be used, and why exactly we should care.

Deal ID is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation among our publisher clients, demand partners, agencies and friends in the media.

WHAT IS A DEAL ID?

First, it might be helpful to explain what a Deal ID actually is and why it was needed in the first place. Deal ID is short for ‘Deal Identifier’, the unique number given to a direct ad buy done via programmatic. That number is used to match buyers and sellers individually, based on a variety of criteria negotiated beforehand. This could include the minimum price the advertiser is allowed to bid, type of ad units, first party data and section of the publisher’s site, among others.

It was introduced to enable the full spectrum of advertising deals to take place within programmatic channels, and ultimately to give buyers and sellers more flexibility and control. In using programmatic publishers have always been able to sell their inventory to thousands of buyers via RTB; but with the introduction of Deal ID, it enabled a direct deal between one publisher and its preferred buyer based on specific criteria and objectives. Direct buys using Deal ID have also been known to command CPMs that are up to three times what the open market does.

THE CHALLENGES OF DEAL ID

Sounds good, right? However, Deal IDs are not without their challenges, as Andrew Casale, vice president of strategy at Casale Media Inc. highlights in his recent AdExchanger article:

“The problem with Deal ID is that everyone hates its cumbersome nature. Programmatic is supposed to bring automation and ease to ad buys, but the process of executing a Deal ID is at times even more arduous than the old IO (Insertion Order). As it stands, the publisher creates a Deal ID, a unique number, and passes it manually to the buyer via a spreadsheet or email. Then the buyer manually inserts the number into their DSP to execute the buy.  Assuming nothing goes wrong in the act of setting up a Deal ID – and things often do go wrong – the real problems start.”

Without a doubt there are challenges to overcome, and the industry needs to work together in order to streamline this protocol to ensure direct buys are a viable and profitable option for publishers and advertisers.

There are also a number of other challenges to overcome. Publishers have less control when approving campaign material before it goes live when using Deal ID. A lot of trust has to be placed on the agency to respect the Ts & Cs in the IO, and in here it is more difficult to track changes. In his article Andrew Casale mentions that the human error rate is extremely high: up to 50%. Deal ID also has restricted pricing rules, with CPM being the only available pricing model. Guaranteed deals are also difficult to manage via Deal ID as inventory can be easily “ignored” by a buyer, or buyers put in a bid that simply does not respect the price agreement. For example, as a buyer you simply do not bid if the audience doesn’t meet your requirements.  This is further complicated by the simple fact that not all DSPs currently support Deal IDs.

For these reasons, Deal ID has its detractors. And those who do use it, and have seen its benefits, seem resigned to its cumbersome nature.  Without a doubt there are challenges to overcome, and the industry needs to work together in order to streamline this protocol to ensure direct buys are a viable and profitable option for publishers and advertisers. However, there are technology partners like Improve Digital who have spotted these issues in advance and have created alternative solutions.

PRIVATE DEALING ROOM, THE ALTERNATIVE TO DEAL ID

At Improve Digital we have seen 467% growth in Deal ID year on year, and we will continue to support its use going forward. However, at the start of this year Improve Digital also launched an alternative to the Deal ID, Private Dealing Room. Private Dealing Room enables publishers to easily automate direct premium campaigns via our 360 Platform, offering all of the benefits of Deal ID while stripping out its problems. It also has the benefit of allowing for a holistic optimisation approach, giving the media owner greater control over inventory allocated to a given campaign.

One of the main drawbacks when using Deal ID is that it is cumbersome and time consuming, as you traditionally need to set-up a Deal ID per product or per agreement. Whereas with Private Dealing Room our publisher clients can set individual controls per agency or advertiser and giving that partner different individual permissions.  With one login publishers can simply enable direct access for different types of products (E.g. an agency can book channel buys, audience targeting buys and high impact buys with the same login).

Unlike Deal ID Private Dealing Room (PDR) gives you the ability to approve a campaign and its material before it goes live. You can even set permissions in a way that requires a publisher approval step when changes are made to a campaign that is already live.

The programmatic market has reached critical mass more quickly than many imagined, and it is reshaping the advertising landscape as we know it.

PDR also enables full campaign optimisation, giving agencies the ability to set pricing types per campaign, whether CPC, CPA, CPM or a combination. With this your campaign will be optimised accordingly. Advanced features are also available, such as click or conversion optimisation for a campaign that is scheduled based on impression and fixed CPM.

Guaranteed deals are difficult to manage via Deal ID, but with PDR you can enable guaranteed buying, similar to premium ad serving. A major advantage for publishers is that guaranteed delivery in our 360 Platform is managed via our proprietary Smart Guarantee technology. A ‘guaranteed’ campaign is only prioritised above auction activity when impression delivery falls behind schedule. As soon as the campaign is on schedule again, the normal auction continues.  Thus, whenever possible, regardless of impression guarantee, the system always tries to serve the highest eCPM, resulting in highest overall revenue for the publisher.

There are also no technical limitations in connecting agencies via Private Dealing Room, whereas   not all DSPs currently support Deal ID. More importantly, with Private Dealing Room you can cut out the DSP middle man and manage invoicing with an agency directly, increasing your net margin and making programmatic buying fully transparent for both the buy and sell side.

Perhaps most importantly, we have seen that Private Dealing Room works. By adopting a holistic yield strategy via our 360 Platform, one of our publisher partners in Belgium saw a 337% increase in revenue, and eCPM increase of 100%. Central to this strategy was employing our Private Dealing Room solution for Programmatic Direct business, allowing the kind of connectivity Deal IDs provide while keeping controls in house to ensure flexibility when it came to inventory allocation and campaign optimisation.

THE FINAL WORD

The programmatic market has reached critical mass more quickly than many imagined, and it is reshaping the advertising landscape as we know it. The future of media sales depends on automation, but for that future to remain bright it’s important that traditional barriers between premium and non-premium inventory disappears. The market is too competitive and holistic optimisation is too important to the publisher bottom-line.

As bigger budgets move into automated channels, it will become impossible to manually optimise inventory across the thousands of advertisers out there. In order to maximise revenue, it’s important for publishers to open up to programmatic, but at the same time maintain a direct connection to their biggest buying partners.  Technology can automate our more mundane tasks, and create efficiencies, however the human element will always be critical in this business. Deal ID and the consideration and adoption of more powerful alternatives like Private Dealing Room can help us achieve that.

This article first appeared on ExchangeWire

Having served in a variety of roles since the company’s launch, Angelique Reym currently serves as Improve Digital's yield management director; a role that allows her to focus on building, implementing and analysing not only ad exchanges, but also software testing and process management. Angelique began her career in digital marketing and advertising in 2005 at ad operations company DQ&A, where she managed a team servicing Microsoft Digital Advertising solutions.