eBay UK Head of Programmatic Guy Jones on Private Marketplace Strategies

eBay announced last week that its private ad exchange had reached 100 advertisers, and grown 600 per cent in volume since launch.

As one of the most innovative publishers in the UK automated trading space, we caught up with eBay’s Head of Programmatic Trading Guy Jones to understand more about its private marketplace strategy:

Can you give an overview of your private marketplace strategy and what your aims have been in implementing it?

Our private marketplace strategy is part of a long-term aim to make ads an integral fit with our user experience – with more relevant ads being served through long-term brand partnerships that our users want to see.

We also increasingly see private marketplaces as controlled environments where we can leverage first party data, given the scale of our platform and the scarcity of the highly segmented user data we hold.

To what extent is your private marketplace strategy a response to the requirements of the demand side?

Clearly there was a strong appetite from demand partners to form these relationships from the outset.

With much of the third party data on the market overly commoditised and widely available, private marketplaces have opened up the possibility of bringing new and valuable data to the market – especially around purchase intent.

We’ve never been able to offer this level of granularity to advertisers before, and trading desks are seeing greater performance and insight through private marketplaces than ever before as a result.

Are private marketplaces really closing the gap between premium direct and standard RTB deals?

We still see a huge role for direct sales at eBay and operate a multi-channel sales approach.

At the same time, we’ve never seen real-time bidding as simply backfill, and we see private marketplaces as a genuine bridge to the premium part of the business.

With private marketplaces now starting to close the gap between premium and standard RTB, we’re getting to a point where the conversation is less about the channel (i.e. – direct or automated) , and more about the advertiser’s individual needs – who they are, the level of customisation or targeting they require etc.

What were the main reasons for partnering with Rubicon on your Private Marketplace strategy?

We were looking for three things from a platform:

  1. The best technology, and a robust and exciting technology roadmap that matches the way we see our business developing.
  2. Demand side adoption – Rubicon Project has good relationships with all the partners we need to work with and enjoys widespread adoption of its platform on the demand side.
  3. Finally, from the start we understood that service, support and account management are all massively important, and that Rubicon Project is streets ahead of the competition on all of these fronts.

Can you talk briefly about first party data and the role it plays in your private marketplace strategy?

First party data is absolutely crucial to our offering – in fact, it’s our competitive advantage. Of course, we have a large audience and can offer advertisers scale, but it’s the data behind those audience segments that really makes it stand out.

What type of first party data are you sharing with agencies?

All our data is anonymous but essentially it’s demographic and purchase intent data – for example, segments include things like mobile, camera or TV intenders, and tech or motor enthusiasts.

What steps do you take to ensure this data is passed securely?

Concerns around security have certainly held back the use of first party data in the UK online ad market in the past.

None of our data, however, is sent externally – a segment ID is passed internally via our data warehouse, into a private marketplace deal ID within Rubicon Project’s REVV platform – and so there is no visibility to external parties.

What role do you see REVV Connect playing in automating these deals?

In the past, setting up private marketplaces involved a lot of manual work around creating and then implementing rules, but going forward REVV Connect will help to streamline the entire process. It will also bring more visibility for private marketplaces to the industry as a whole.

How do you see this market developing in future?

I see the future as being limited only by what the technology can allow us to do. Fundamentally, I think our future needs to look like agency trading desks creating their own audiences based on our data, rather than us pre-packaging it for them.

For this to work, however, would first require standardisation around how first party data is traded across the industry.