What is the Open Marketplace? The Foundation of Programmatic (and Mediavine) Ads

woman in light blue shirt looking at a smartphone on a couch in her home

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which programmatic advertising has altered the media buying landscape in the last decade.

In the early 2010s, people asked, “what is programmatic advertising?” But the truth is, at least online, programmatic is advertising.

This is, in large part, thanks to the open marketplace, a.k.a. the open exchange, or to the cool kids, “The Open” or simply “Open.”

group of people on their smartphones

Previously, when we discussed the private marketplace, or PMP, we talked about buyers and sellers working together in this space.

While PMP has advantages for more discerning buyers, and has carved out a necessary place in the programmatic ecosystem, it’s not where the bulk of transactions take place.

In contrast, the open marketplace does not require any contact or negotiations between ad buyers or sites selling ads. 

Publishers are connected to the marketplace via programmatic technology that passes information to buyers, such as domain, ad type (video or display), ad size, operating system, minimum bid allowed, etc. 

On the other end of this virtual transaction, advertisers can select the audience they wish to target, with the aid of metrics such as ad viewability, click-through rates and other site data to help price their bids.

Private marketplace deals share the same technical infrastructure as the open, but the difference is volume. Tens of thousands of advertisers buy on the open marketplace, compared to only a few hundred via PMP. 

Beyond volume, the key to The Open’s appeal is efficiency.

An advertiser can look at Mediavine travel blogs, for instance, then they can target visitors to those sites all over the world, or even zero in on a smaller core of visitors, like “vegans in Paducah, Kentucky,” within a few minutes.

Before programmatic altered the industry, this kind of targeting could have taken days, even weeks. This quick turnaround, among other reasons, makes transactions in the open marketplace fast, scalable and effective.

using a computer to learn about the Open Marketplace

Mediavine and the Open Marketplace

Many people are surprised to learn that Mediavine has been an internet publisher since 2004 (and equally surprised to learn what sites Mediavine owns and operates to this day).

At the end of 2013, Mediavine cut ties with its ad management service and took control of that aspect of its business. The open marketplace, then still a novel concept, became a lifeline.

Searching for the fastest way to build and maintain a steady income stream for our websites as we ventured out in this space, we quickly found it by connecting to the open marketplace.

The Open gave us the opportunity for our inventory to be sold on ad exchanges optimized for advertiser performance, making our inventory as valuable as possible to a host of buyers. 

Even as recently as a few years ago, many industry insiders discounted the importance of the open marketplace, considering those buyers as remnant or low-price buyers.

But by focusing on the Open, we are enjoying the benefits of higher demand for our inventory, and as more people bid for impressions, the higher the winning bid is likely to be.

This has been Mediavine’s primary strategy ever since, and as we developed the script wrapper that powers our ad technology, we were able to bring it to thousands of content creators.

man with headphones using a smartphone

How did we get the advertisers on board? Call it a “Field of Dreams” strategy of sorts — minus the ghost baseball players or kidnapping of a famous author. If we build it, they will come.

As we onboard new websites every week, our Comscore ranking continues to rise and buyers increasingly respect Mediavine as the largest, brand-safe, exclusive publishing community online. 

Moreover, in the last five years, we have been selected to alpha and beta test multiple products from our revenue partners Google, The Rubicon Project, Index Exchange, Pubmatic and others.

Just as content creators who wonder, “Should I put ads on my website?,” have found a home with Mediavine, some of the biggest revenue players have placed their trust in us as well.

All thanks to an open mind — and an open marketplace strategy.

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