Advertising Guest Columns
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Some publishers will lose access to Google Ad Manager this year. Here’s why that matters

In July 2021, Google will replace its Scaled Partner Management (SPM) programme for publishers with a new Multiple Customer Management (MCM) programme

This may not sound like the most dramatic development in the digital publishing world, but it could have potentially serious consequences for small to medium publishers, who will lose access to Google Ad Manager – including access to Google AdX demand – if their SPM partner doesn’t qualify for the new MCM programme. 

With over a third of publisher revenues coming from programmatic advertising, and the majority of publishers focused on building this part of their business, this development could have a significant impact on their bottom line.  

It’s not yet clear whether there will be a phased rollout of MCM and a gradual shutdown of SPM, or whether the changeover will be abrupt, but with July just weeks away publishers should be prepared.

The SPM situation explained

Many publishers use Google Ad Manager, a centralized ad management platform that allows them to monetize multiple inventory types including websites, videos, and apps. It gives them access to premium monetization tools such as Google AdX, a programmatic advertising exchange previously known as DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

But only larger publishers with over five million monthly pageviews can gain direct access to Ad Manager. Smaller publishers need to access the platform through a reseller that is an authorised SPM programme partner. These partnerships are made worthwhile because of the better monetisation opportunities they afford through the ability to access premium demand, coupled with the benefit of a managed service. However, not all of Google’s SPM partners will automatically be transitioned to the MCM programme when the switchover takes place in July, meaning many publishers will lose access to Ad Manager if their SPM partner doesn’t meet the programme’s requirements.      

Moving forward with MCM

The switch from SPM to MCM is a positive move from Google, designed to simplify Ad Manager access and help publishers streamline monetisation efforts, take advantage of new revenue sources, and boost yields. It will improve the user experience, while also increasing efficiency and transparency in the ad supply chain. In addition to enabling publishers to access the next generation of Google AdX, the MCM programme will also deliver other features such as Open Bidding and Programmatic Direct to drive these improvements. Up until now these features were only available to publishers that have Google Ad Manager 360.

Open Bidding is Google’s answer to header bidding. It enables a unified auction between multiple demand partners, from supply-side platforms (SSPs) to ad networks and ad exchanges, all bidding simultaneously. Publishers can selectively invite these demand partners and, with the highest bid selected for each impression, Open Bidding naturally increases publisher yields. It also improves the user experience, with reduced latency thanks to auctions taking place on external servers. Quicker loading speeds result in reduced bounce rates and more time spent on the page, delivering increased opportunity for monetisation.       

Programmatic Direct is a feature of the MCM programme that enables publishers and advertisers to make direct agreements through a programmatic platform, gaining the best of both worlds. Through Programmatic Direct publishers gain a deeper level of insight into the advertiser’s target audience, allowing them to offer more relevant placements. They can also offer a more transparent supply chain, free from fraud. Both of these benefits enable them to negotiate better rates for their inventory. Programmatic Direct models take several forms, including preferred deals with fixed pricing and guaranteed deals with both fixed pricing and guaranteed volumes. 

Preparing for the changeover

The first step in preparing for the changeover is to have an open conversation with SPM partners to find out their status regarding the MCM programme and whether or not they have been accepted into the programme. If partners have, they should send publishers an invitation to accept and provide permission to monetise and manage ad inventories through the programme. If their vendor doesn’t qualify, publishers will need to switch to an MCM partner and re-tag.

For SPM partners there is also potential to collaborate with an MCM partner, where the MCM partner provides publisher revenue management and the incumbent still works on other value-added services. Collaboration and cooperation across the industry will be essential at this time of transition and uncertainty.    

While the switchover from SPM to MCM is undoubtedly a positive move for publishers, enabling them to boost revenues, improve the user experience, and increase supply chain transparency, it could potentially leave both smaller publishers and their SPM partners in a precarious position. It’s important to start open conversations around the transition to MCM now, so the industry can pull together and make the most of this constructive development in the near future. 

Sivan Tafla
CEO of Total Media Solutions

Total Media Solutions knows publishers – it has been working with them for 16 years and is one of only nine Google-certified resellers worldwide. The company uses its knowledge of the latest industry news, policies, and best practices to help publishers worldwide such as Playbill, National Review, and Shinez grow their businesses. It does this through Publisher Revenue Management which uses the latest tech and programmatic media to create sustainable site revenues, and Valued Added User Experience which provides solutions for Core Web Vitals, trust and safety, site speed, and GDPR consent amongst others, to create better user experiences. Total Media Solutions is headquartered in Tel Aviv, with a global presence in Berlin, London, Paris, Istanbul, and New York. For more information visit Total Media Solutions.