PubMatic Brings Audience Targeting to the Sell-Side with ‘Connect’ Platform

Tim Cross 24 May, 2022 

PubMatic today launched Connect, a new addressability tool which will essentially unite the company’s existing identity and targeting tools into one omnichannel platform. PubMatic says Connect will enable media buyers to take a “portfolio approach” to audience addressability, combining a range of different signals to help identify whoever they’re looking to reach.

PubMatic says that Connect will combine data gained from its sell-side connections, as well as any buyer data, to power targeting. This includes known identity signals drawn from PubMatic’s publisher-facing Identity Hub, first-party data, contextual signals, seller-defined audiences, and modelled audiences. This will all be further strengthened via partnerships with a number of data management platforms and identity graphs including Samba TV, Lotame, Epsilon, LiveRamp, and Semasio.

By combining these data sources and enabling buyers to find and transact on audiences through its own platform, PubMatic is seeking to play a bigger role in audience targeting – often the domain of the buy-side platforms. The sell-side platform argues that handling audience targeting on the sell-side gives buyers more control over how inventory and data are packaged and transacted.

“As media buyers seek to maximise the value and ROI of their media spend, audience addressability is a critical piece of the puzzle,” said Peter Barry, VP of addressability at PubMatic. “Connect sets a new standard for efficiency and effectiveness in media targeting, giving advertisers access to specific audiences using the data currency they prefer, in one streamlined platform. There is a robust future for sell-side audience addressability, and this will give publishers and advertisers better control over revenue and performance.”

SSPs and DSPs jostling for position

While Connect is a buyer-facing product, it’s likely designed in part to incentivise more buyers to connect up with its sell-side tools, which would in turn strengthen its sell-side offering. PubMatic says Connect will enable increased reach and scale for advertisers’ campaigns, resulting in greater return on ad-spend. If this sees more buys being routed through PubMatic’s pipes, it can present a stronger proposition to its publisher partners.

But it also looks like a broader strategic manoeuvre, as DSPs and SSPs jostle for position in a crowded ad tech ecosystem which is currently getting thinned out via supply-path optimisation (SPO).

The Trade Desk’s recent launch of OpenPath, a new product which allows publishers to directly integrate with its buy-side tools, was seen by some as an existential threat to the SSP model. If DSPs can simply link up directly with sellers, what role do SSPs play?

SSPs have been quick to point out that they do much more than simply up supply and demand – things like yield optimisation, header bidding setups, and identity (a point echoed by The Trade Desk itself). And PubMatic is doing the same with Connect – its product page tells buyers they can “drive greater performance with audience targeting applied on the supply-side”, and that Connect offers “insights you can only get from the supply-side”.

And while DSPs are increasingly reaching out to publishers, SSPs themselves are also building more direct relationships with buyers. Earlier this year PubMatic and Magnite both sealed a deal with WPP’s media arm GroupM, which will see GroupM clients get direct access to inventory from the two SSPs.

Tools like Connect may help PubMatic forge even more direct links with buyers. And indeed PubMatic says that Connect looks to build on growth of its audience business, which has been driven in large part by supply-path optimisation.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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