Horizon Media and Magnite ink SPO deal to consolidate buys, focus on CTV

Horizon Media and ad platform Magnite on Monday entered a supply-path optimization deal to consolidate purchases and prioritize connected TV.

The multi-year deal expands on the two firms’ existing relationship that goes back several years. New York-based Horizon Media, the largest independent media agency in the U.S., said strengthening its supply side will improve efficiency for clients and make the marketplace more transparent, citing Magnite’s strong inventory types and audience-based buying features.

Especially as programmatic buying and selling of media inventory continues to evolve, the industry has called for greater transparency not just in the inventory, for example, but where it is sourced, said Alex Stone, svp of advanced video and agency partnerships for Horizon Media.

“[We need] to create economies of scale to get to a more transparent place, with more efficiency for our accounts in the form of CPM savings and take rate reductions,” Stone told Digiday.

In recent years, more media buyers are working on SPO strategies with the goal of securing inventory at the best price, while publishers get to maximize their revenue in the long term. Demand-side platforms use an algorithm to streamline with the supply-side platforms. The idea is this can also weed out bad actors and help filter only the most relevant inventory to the DSPs.

Magnite, an independent sell-side ad platform, will become the preferred supply-side platform for Horizon Media’s private marketplace and programmatic guaranteed CTV deals. The SPO partnership also includes a custom direct integration to use data segments from Blu, Horizon’s connected marketing platform for omnichannel buys. The exact terms of their agreement were not made available.

“Programmatic is a really great solution to buying CTV inventory,” Stone said. “You can manage things that were siloed before with [networks and streaming services]. You can look holistically across all your buys.”

With these datasets onboarded onto the DSPs, they can go straight to the supply side. When inventory is routed with this supply-side data, “we can route the inventory more intelligently,” explained Sean Buckley, CRO at Magnite.

In addition to their SPO strategy, the organizations said it has become more important for buyers and sellers to work closely together — especially considering how the media marketplace has changed. In particular, Stone said that “tech fees” going to the platforms have become a challenge as they prioritize CTV, and clients find “fees like this are really hard to swallow.”

By working directly together, Horizon and Magnite also hope to build more transparency into the supply chain. Right now, CTV transactions are done privately — compared to display transactions that happen in an open market — so working closely means “we open up a lot more visibility,” said Buckley.

Horizon Media wields some $9.5 billion in media investment clout for clients including The Hershey Company, which uses CTV in its marketing strategy. Horizon’s other clients include Corona, Geico and STX Entertainment.

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