Switched On David Murphy talks connectivity with BidSwitch’s Julian Savitch-Lee he last couple of years have seen a revolution in the way mobile advertising inventory is traded, as programmatic has evolved from its desktop roots to become a key method for buying and selling mobile ad space. Within the programmatic arena, there are a variety of companies working to deliver effective campaigns and positive ROI for advertisers. Broadly speaking, they fall into three camps: Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), working on the advertiser’s behalf; Supply Side Platforms, representing the publishers’ interests; and Data Management Platforms (DMPs), which handle the data crunching needed to target mobile users at a granular level. For programmatic to work efficiently, all players in the ecosystem need to connect and talk to each other seamlessly, so that the right user can be targeted with the right ad at the right time, and in the right context, with the decision on how much to bid for an impression, and which ad to serve to who, all made in milliseconds. This inevitably places a massive burden on ad tech firms’ engineering teams, as Julian Savitch-Lee, director of client services at BidSwitch, explains. “The ecosystem in real-time trading grows at a very fast pace,” he says. “For example, the first Open RTB protocol
initiative supported by the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) was just for desktop, then video; mobile applications and native followed with audio and connected TV efforts starting in 2016. Even though the IAB only comes out with a new specification every six to nine months, if you are a DSP who is integrated with 20 partners and they require you to upgrade, then you have to do 20 separate pieces of development work and possibly create new products in order to keep up. You are constantly rushing to stand still.” In addition, says Savitch-Lee, the DSPs have to pass on the cost of doing these integrations to their clients in order to survive, so it’s not only a time-consuming process, but a costly one too.
BidSwitch It’s a problem that IPONWEB seeks to solve with its BidSwitch solution. BidSwitch came out of IPONWEB’s core business, which is building and engineering ad tech platforms, including DSPs, SSPs, DMPs and exchanges. It’s been doing this since 2001, with a team of 300 people, including two major engineering centres in Moscow and Berlin. Once a client takes delivery of an ad tech stack, they typically want to use it to trade, which means connecting to other companies. BidSwitch initially emerged as in internal solution to connect different
players in the ecosystem together via a middleware layer, hosted in the cloud. Once you’re connected to this middleware layer, you’re automatically connected to everyone else who is connected to it and can trade with them in most instances with a oneclick request from a demand side client in BidSwitch’s user interface. It’s a much more efficient way of doing things, which offers access to a myriad of programmatic platforms and inventory options through a single integration. “BidSwitch translates each partner’s unique platform ‘tech language’ into a universal one,” says Savitch-Lee. “We proactively maintain the complex, technical translations involved in direct Supply/ Demand integrations so our partners can ‘speak’ and work seamlessly. Like a network switch, a single integration with BidSwitch opens the door to a multitude of pathways that would take years to build and would be expensive to maintain independently.” There are currently around 110 SSP and 160 DSP partners plugged into BidSwitch, including many of the major players. But Savitch-Lee says he’s happy for BidSwitch to remain in the background, quietly connecting the different players in order that all can work to maximum effect. “We do our work in the background, and with the Demand Side clients we would
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