4 ways Deal ID is failing to serve buyers

This post is written by Jennifer Chen, director of global trading and operations at Sizmek Vantage.

In the programmatic world, there’s a natural tension between the buyer’s need for scale and efficiency and the seller’s desire for exclusivity and control. The Deal ID was invented, in part, to allay this tension by returning some control to publishers, who believe real-time bidding has driven down prices.

Ideally, Deal ID allows publishers to make premium inventory available on exchanges for higher CPMs, while allowing buyers programmatic efficiency.

But it’s not working for buyers. And here’s why.

How Deal ID is supposed to work

Simply put, a Deal ID is a unique number assigned to an automated ad buy on a publisher’s exchange. The Deal ID represents the terms of a deal negotiated between the buyer and seller in advance, such as floor price, priority and specific publisher data.

Starting on the buy side, the agency asks the trading desk to negotiate with a group of selected publishers. The trading desk identifies its requested inventory, then executes the buy on a connected exchange.

On the sell side, the publishers choose supply-side platforms (SSPs) that enable their inventory for programmatic selling. SSPs plug into the exchanges, help publishers set up Deal IDs around specific inventory and run transactions, supposedly passing Deal IDs seamlessly across all of these entities for reporting.

But in reality, Deal IDs have not helped streamline buyer and seller workflows.

Here are four ways Deal IDs can hurt buyers, at least at present:

The Deal ID time suck

Setting up a buy with a Deal ID starts with a laborious hunt for the right pool of inventory and audiences that fit your budget. First, you’ll need to determine which publishers participate in private marketplaces through Deal IDs, and if they are making what you want available and at the right price. Then, you must find which exchanges include those publishers. Each has its own interface, so plan on spending time figuring out how each works.

The tech-supported tete-à-tete

After you identify the deal and submit terms through the sell-side technology interface, buyers must wait for a seller to respond, negotiate and potentially accept. Sometimes, this process stalls and you need to involve multiple account managers in the middle—on both buy and sell sides. Budget two to three weeks of back and forth here.

The no-guarantee, no-money-back small print

Before you buy, make sure you understand the Deal ID fine print. Not all inventory available in private exchanges through Deal ID is guaranteed. In fact, some inventory traded this way is also up for grabs on a real-time bidding platform where the best price wins—Deal ID or no Deal ID.

In Private or Preferred deals, the seller can create a Deal ID for a buyer, then put that same inventory up for auction. In Selective Auctions, deals may have multiple buyers with the same Deal IDs and put that inventory on the block. Buyers beware.

Reporting and billing numbers don’t always add up

Discrepancies in private exchanges using Deal IDs are usually worse than they would be in open auctions, because there are so many extra potential causal factors: number of buyers with the same Deal ID, number of Deal IDs created for the same inventory, SSP technology, DSP technology, each SSP or DSP’s fees for running the deals.

Meanwhile, your invoice from the SSP or publisher may state the full amount of your original deal, though you may not have delivered enough scale or performance for your advertiser. You are the one stuck in the middle—and in the red, If you want to fight it, you’ll need to devote even more time to get a re-issued invoice.

The bottom line

As of now, Deal IDs still require a lot of human effort and time to set up and execute. They remain an either/or proposition for the buy-side: either you can achieve the cost-efficiency of programmatic buying or the selectivity of a Deal ID.

You can’t have both.


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