Is It Time for Marketers to Take a Fresh Look at SPO?

By Raphaelle Tripet, Managing Director UK, TripleLift

From Fawlty Towers, to Tyson Fury and even leg warmers – the world is full of comebacks. So perhaps it’s time for the resurgence of Supply Path Optimisation (SPO) tools.

Used by marketers for over half a decade in an effort to make programmatic ad purchasing more transparent and effective, these tools help to streamline the supply chain and in doing so, give marketers a clearer view of their campaigns, providing cost savings for both buyers and sellers.

With the advertising industry currently facing a raft of challenges, it is important to once again examine what SPO can offer to all areas of the supply chain.

Why now?

One issue at the front of every marketer’s mind is addressability. While Google’s decision to phase out the third-party cookie in 2024 has put pressure on marketers to find an alternative, the truth is that almost half of all ad requests are already unaddressable. This is clearly not an issue that can be put off until next year. But as alternative solutions have appeared, the buying landscape has become even more fractured and complex, increasing the chance of wasted spend.

On top of this pressure are the constantly evolving macroeconomic forces. While the risk of economic slowdown is lessening, the rising cost of living for consumers has left many being more cautious with their spending. Brands are also grappling with how they can positively contribute to the fight against climate change. One programmatic ad impression currently produces around one gram of CO2 and with the huge reach of the advertising industry, this impact quickly adds up.

With these challenges in mind, it is time to look at SPO in a new light and examine its benefits for publishers.

Cutting waste

While ad budgets are still growing in some regions, many marketers will be worried about the potential of cuts to their spend. At the same time, brands understand audiences’ expectations that they continue to reach them even in tough times. In order to walk this tightrope, marketers will have to maximise the effectiveness of their spend and one way to do this is to reduce wastage and ensure that purchases are made more directly. By shortening these pathways, marketers can also help to keep their CO2 emissions down. Less intermediaries means less power used per transaction.

Ultimately, the fewer steps in the path to auction, the further that ad spend goes.

Bridging the addressability gap

As third-party identifiers depreciate, many are looking towards first-party data solutions to fill the addressability gap. The future lies in approaches that combine media and data solutions to give buyers and sellers better access to inventory supply and demand. Gaining the greatest insights from first-party data will mean collaboration from both the buy and sell side.

SPO can help to enable this collaboration. With more direct technological infrastructure linking supply and demand, first-party data can be better enriched in a privacy-secure way.  By increasing addressability, marketers can better reach their target audiences and ensure their spend is effective.

Increased transparency

SPO is no longer simply about cutting. Instead it is about choice. The increased transparency that SPO brings enables brands to have greater control over the quality of the impressions they gain. Marketers should examine intermediates and determine whether they bring them extra value – if they don’t then they should look to make that purchasing journey more direct.

With more money heading to publishers, brands also more directly contribute to supporting quality sites, while delivering higher quality ad experiences to their audiences.

Now is the time for marketers to reboot their SPO strategies. With so many larger issues circling, those who are not agile and adaptable enough to tackle them will be left behind. SPO solutions are becoming an increasingly vital tool for brands looking to reach audiences in a more efficient and thoughtful way.