Open vs. Private – Which Was Thanksgiving Week’s Biggest Bull?

Note: This post is part of a series of pieces covering the programmatic marketplace during the holiday advertising season.

Something we examine frequently at Index Exchange is the state of the private marketplace. We look at PMPs from a number of angles to figure out the following and much more: how much private marketplace spend changes, how competitive buyers are for private inventory, which brands allocate significant portions of spend privately, and how private spend relates to open spend in the United States and globally.

As the preeminent marketing objective over this first week of holiday ad spending is to drive sales, Pre-Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday was a really interesting period of time to monitor private marketplace size, spend, and brand demographics. Though slight, there was interesting movement in the shift between private and open spend. Specifically, the open market was more valuable to buyers on a few key days. See the break down from the week below.

Days 1-4: Private and Open Share Resemble Normal Day in the Exchange

From November 23 – November 26, the balance between open and private spend was 90% open and 10% private, globally. This is a normal exchange day’s breakdown – we’ve seen 90% open and 10% private globally for the past few months.

Impressions were a bit different. From Monday to Wednesday 96% of total exchange impressions were sold in the open market. The differential between PMP’s percentage of spend and percentage of impressions shows you how PMP impressions are valued aside open impressions.

Days 5-8: The Open Exchange Pulls Ahead for the Shopping Days

Black Friday, Cyber Weekend, and Cyber Monday were a bit different. On each of these four days the, the proportion of open spend to private spend was higher than we’ve seen it this quarter to date. Instead of 90% open, as is the norm, 92% of spend within the Index marketplace transacted in the open exchange. It was a slight shift, but interesting nonetheless.

We think this suggests the digital display procurement strategy over these key shopping days was reach in real time, as opposed to accuracy or precision. And that’s totally ok! It’s likely display was used by the biggest buyers to reinforce more targeted efforts on other marketing channels, such as email or social.

A Thoughtful Programmatic Media Mix Activates Open and Private for Unique Objectives

The most important thing this data illustrates is that private and open buying is used by buyers to meet different marketing objectives. Some of the biggest buyers over the course of the week bought in both the open and private markets (e.g. Best Buy and JP Morgan Chase & Co), while others focused only on the open (e.g. Verizon), or private (e.g. American Express).

As the industry works to increase transparency, quality, and safety within the open market, open will continue to serve buyers for unique purposes. Primarily, the scale is unprecedented and the opportunity for audience discovery is rife.

The private exchange is very much alive and well, too. For marketers with contained audience segments, tighter budgets, or very specific, targeted objectives, buying through private deals is unrivaled. While the private marketplace lost some share to open during the year’s biggest advertising days, it’s a channel we expect to see continue to grow.

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