It’s been two years since Marc Pritchard’s
call to arms on transparency, but the Supply Path Optimisation conversation is just now gaining traction in Asia Pacific (APAC). In a post-header bidding world where there is no unique inventory, both advertisers and publishers want to simplify supply paths. APAC agencies are starting to drive supply transparency and ownership, which fits squarely with the Supply Side Platform’s (SSP) move to provide unique demand to publishers. 

Marketers too, are realising verification does not necessarily equal transparency, and tracking supply from impression through to business outcomes is what’s driving real efficiencies:  $200M worth for P&G globally.

We’ve identified four different kinds of transparency:

  1. Media Transparency: Providing visibility and analysis on what exactly was purchased. Impression by impression log level data provides this information, but requires investment in resources and systems to ingest and analyse it. 
  2. Auction Transparency: What type of auction happened (first price or second price, who participated in the auction, and if price floors affected the auction outcomes). Not every auction is properly declared in APAC, and overpaying can be difficult to spot without detailed analysis.
  3. Fee Transparency: The ability to see how the monetary transaction occurred throughout the transaction between the buyer and seller and know what was deducted and when. In APAC where we have a higher share of app inventory, publishers are often new to ad monetization and need to know the right questions to ask on how and when fees are taken.
  4. Data Transparency: What data is probabilistic, what data is deterministic and how is it all collected and compiled. Some audience based panels are small in this region, so not as reliable as they may be globally. It’s important to understand how data is collected and how to interpret it, country by country. The IAB Tech Lab has been making progress by creating a data labelling practice similar to food labelling, but the framework has not yet been adopted in APAC.


That said, industry leaders still believe there are gaps in knowledge, adoption and comfort levels when it comes to this conversation. And for that reason, we thought it would be useful to share some of the questions we suggest marketers and publishers start asking to better understand how, respectively, their money is being spent and generated.

Questions for advertisers to ask supply partners partners (publishers or programmatic companies that execute campaigns on the buyer’s behalf):

  1. Media: What types of buying are being applied (Open Marketplace, Private Marketplace, Programmatic Guaranteed)? Are you using ads.txt or sellers.json? If I share granular verification reporting, can you optimize your site or app to it?
  2. Auction: Are your auctions first price or second price? If second price do you have bid biases or soft floors?
  3. Fee: How much of my cost goes into labour fees, tech fees, data fees, etc.?
  4. Data: what data do you use to verify your audience estimates? Is it panel based or deterministic?


And questions for publishers to ask demand partners (advertisers and agencies):

  1. Media: What targeting are you planning to apply? What impact will that targeting have on the expected scale?
  2. Auction: Does your Demand Side Platform (DSP) apply any bid shading for first price bidding? Does your DSP throttle traffic and if so how? 
  3. Fee: Is there a difference in the fee you pay between PG, PMP Deals and Open Auction? How is “free” data affecting the cost of media?
  4. Data: what data do you intend to use to evaluate your buy? Is it panel based or deterministic? 


Addressing these questions early and often is key to creating true transparency in programmatic. As APAC takes ownership of the transparency conversation for the first time, we’re faced with a huge opportunity now to create real value for both brands and publishers.


This thought leadership article was written by IAB SEA+India Programmatic Committee Members

  • Eimear O’Rourke, Account Director, Xandr
  • Diogo Andrade, Head of Automation, SEA, HK, TW, Spotify