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What are Publishers, SSPs and Ad techs roles towards Sustainable Programmatic Supply Path?

As advertisers increasingly prioritize sustainability in their marketing campaigns on the demand side, DSPs are implementing threshold limits to encourage a more environmentally friendly programmatic supply chain. What role does the supply path play in driving this movement towards greener practices?

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In an era defined by a growing awareness of environmental concerns and the urgent need for sustainable practices, the world of digital advertising has come under scrutiny. The concept of "Green Programmatic" or "Sustainable Media" has emerged as a response to the industry's environmental impact. It calls for a shift towards more eco-friendly and sustainable advertising practices.

This evolution involves various stakeholders in the demand-side (Advertisers and DSPs), as well as in the supply-side: including Publishers, Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs), and Ad tech companies, each playing a crucial role in reducing the carbon footprint of digital advertising.

In this article, we delve into the specific contributions and responsibilities of these key players towards achieving a sustainable and more environmentally conscious programmatic advertising landscape.

Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) have traditionally acted as intermediaries connecting publishers and advertisers.

SSPs Can Lead the Way in Green SPO

SSPs play a crucial role in the digital advertising ecosystem, and they can certainly lead the way in making Supply Path Optimization (SPO) more environmentally friendly and sustainable. SPO involves optimizing the path through which an ad is delivered, and this optimization can include reducing energy consumption, data center usage, and overall carbon footprint. Here are some ways SSPs can lead the way in green SPO:

Reducing Traffic Cost, Increasing Traffic Quality

The statistic show that more than 95% of bid requests sent from SSPs to DSPs can be categorized as digital waste. Yeah! It is quite striking. Wasteful requests refer to network requests that do not deliver significant value, such as those with no response, no bid, or bids falling below the operating cost.

It highlights the inefficiencies and resource consumption within the digital advertising ecosystem, emphasizing the need for more precise targeting, improved data quality, and better optimization practices to reduce this substantial waste.

Data centers are energy-intensive operations. SSPs can invest in more energy-efficient servers or partner with data center providers that prioritize sustainability. This includes using renewable energy sources and implementing energy-efficient technologies. Another solution is regarding the quality of network traffic, which can be vastly optimized by reducing 60% of waste requests. And it results in higher overall bid rates and traded volume, higher profitability and a significant reduction in the server cost.

The quality of the traffic is key, since DSP threshold limits bid requests. By the way, you may want to explore more about what is QPS (query per second) optimization to understand in details how to optimize QPS limits.

Striking a delicate balance between reducing bid requests and enhancing fill rates, win rates, and profitability is crucial for SSPs. To increase these limits, SSPs must deliver high-quality traffic to their partners, steering clear of digital waste caused by empty auctions or invaluable bid requests. To cultivate stronger relationships with their SSP partners, these platforms are now adopting innovative traffic shaping solutions. By doing so, they gain better bargaining power to negotiate limit increases and, in turn, optimize their overall performance.

Advanced User Profiling

To optimize traffic while maintaining profitability, effective matchmaking is essential. Traffic shaping technologies play a crucial role in this process, swiftly matching trillions of ad requests with suitable demand partners in microseconds. These technologies analyze real-time bidding data, enriched with insights from partners, to determine the suitability of user profiles before proceeding to the auction. If the location, time of day, or user profile suggests a low-value request that doesn't justify QPS limits, the bid request is excluded from the auction.

Achieving this efficiency involves reducing industry-wide traffic by at least 50%, leveraging machine learning and predictive methods to assess the value of domains and users, and determining each request value (using a sophisticated prediction model)

"Publishers can easily cut 40% of traffic without harming income, whereas SSPs can decrease 50 to 60% of traffic while increasing revenue! by investing in quality prediction algorithms.” According to Nils Lind.

Publishers, SSPs, and their partners can now contribute to the industry's journey towards ad net zero. For example, publishers can remove resellers from their ads.txt file and work with direct demand, as well as manually map out SSPs from browsers/countries where they do not operate.

Ad Buyers can contribute by devoting a more considerable portion of their budgets to lower-carbon creative, such as standard IAB display units, and by directing their budgets to greener DSPs and SSPs. DSPs and advertisers must also identify spammy partners and reward SSP owners who prioritize sustainability.

Publishers role towards Sustainable Media

Regardless, there are certain roles the publishers can still play in promoting green advertising.

In a purely operational sense, they can dramatically lower the carbon emitted through their digital ad inventory transaction. They can do this in several ways, from reducing their page-load to rationalizing the number of partners in their ad stack.

Reducing digital Ads inventory

They can dramatically lower the carbon emitted through their digital ad inventory transaction in several ways, from reducing their page load to rationalizing the number of partners in their ad stack.

Influence advertisers and marketers

Publishers can influence advertisers and marketers about the benefits of green media and encourage them to prioritize it in their campaigns. However, publishers have a bigger responsibility than this and, therefore, a bigger opportunity. The content they write can impact the behavior of millions of people.

We would argue that a publisher who emits comparatively little carbon in serving an ad but whose editorial content encourages unsustainable consumer behavior can’t be considered ‘green media’. The true impact publishers can have in producing content that helps drive better consumer behavior in this pivot towards a low-carbon economy.

Use ad networks that prioritize green media

Publishers can use ad networks that prioritize the inclusion of green media in their inventory, which can help them reach a wider audience of environmentally-conscious consumers.

Finally, a publisher can promote sustainability by featuring content that educates and informs readers about environmental issues and solutions and by partnering with organizations working to protect the environment.

Many players are collaborating to this cause, such as Ad Net Zero, which helps the advertising industry’s drive to decarbonise the production, distribution, and publication of advertising. Or Scope3, that offers a platform where it's possible to check the emissions of every advertising, publishing, and tech platform.

In response to the growing push in sustainable SPO direction, specially from the demand-side, a few Ad Techs are proactively offering solutions to support sell-side on reducing digital waste, carbon emissions, supply path inefficiencies and, bringing players of the programmatic advertising industry closer to a sustainable business.

Ad techs traffic shaping solutions for the supply-side

Ad tech is ultimately an enabler - a set of technologies that help brands communicate their marketing messages to a relevant audience. With that in mind, there are key ways it can influence behavior:

By helping brands promote ethical products and services and successfully grow their businesses.

  • Consumer spend on ethical products has grown significantly faster in the past decade than overall consumer spend. Because of this, many brands now produce products and services that provide people with more sustainable consumer options. This might be an electric vehicle, a meat-free food option, sustainably sourced clothing, or a green financial product. For those brands to grow successfully, they need to reach an audience most likely to be interested.
  • In the same way, a clothing brand might choose to reach fashion-conscious consumers by appearing in Vogue, a brand with a sustainable product message must reach ethically-conscious consumers. Advertising can influence people towards more sustainable products, and ad tech can help brands reach the audience that is most likely to engage.

By supporting publishers whose content inspires and educates people to live more sustainably.

  • The increasing consumer interest in sustainability is reflected in the growth of digital publishers creating content around the subject. This ranges from sites like pebblemag.com, writing about how people can make sustainable lifestyle choices, to mindbodygreen.com, writing about how people can benefit both their own health and the planet around them.
  • However, many emerging publishers do not receive any spending from major media agencies or brands. Ad tech is vital in ensuring these types of publishers get their fair share of ad dollars. This revenue helps them grow and create more content, influencing mass behavior change.

Discover how GumGum achieved a 30% QPS on average reduction using Traffic Shaping. Read the full story

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Written by

Angela A. Oladipupo

Content Analyst

Angela is a wordsmith who skillfully transforms complex concepts into engaging content, making significant contributions to the advertising industry. Leveraging her wealth of expertise as a content writer, she crafts compelling narratives that seamlessly bridge technology and communication, whether with her pen or keyboard.

Frequently asked questions

What is Supply Path Optimization (SPO)?

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SPO involves optimizing the path through which an ad is delivered, and this optimization can include reducing energy consumption, data center usage, and overall carbon footprint by inscreasing traffic quality, using advanced user profiling, and having a good Traffic Shaping startegy.

What are the best traffic shaping solutions for publishers and SSPs?

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The best traffic shaping solutions for publishers and SSPs involve leveraging ad tech to promote efficient and sustinable ad revenue. Ad tech supports publishers to reduce wasteful requests and optimize QPS limits, sending only relevant inventory for demand partners.

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