- Private Marketplace (PMP) Best Practices: How to Set-Up Successful Deals

2015 09 16 hero - Private Marketplace (PMP) Best Practices: How to Set-Up Successful Deals


September 16, 2015

Private Marketplace (PMP) Best Practices: How to Set-Up Successful Deals

Miki Rapoport, Director Product, and Eric Salsa, Business Operations

As programmatic premium takes off, many advertisers see private marketplaces (PMPs) as an ideal buying model that will deliver the audiences they need at scale adjacent to premium, relevant content.

For the most part, this is a correct assumption; PMPs do offer access to high quality and brand-safe inventory that deliver great campaign results – but just like any deal, they need to be executed effectively!

Every day we work with both buyers and sellers in private marketplace deals, and we’ve seen first-hand that campaign success, scalability, and operational efficiency aren’t given with PMPs; they’re targets that buyers (and sellers) must work towards. How do buyers help reach these targets?

Below are some best practices we’ve witnessed for creating PMP deals that work and scale.

Understand Inventory Structure

We all make assumptions, but we also know that they aren’t always correct. With respect to PMP deals, we recommend avoiding unnecessary assumptions and instead asking very specific questions about the terms of the deal, including:

  • Do You Have First Look? Just because you have a Deal ID, it doesn’t follow that you also have first look or right of first refusal. Moreover, ask what first-look actually means. For instance, do you get first look into all available inventory, or just uncommitted impressions?
  • Where Do You Compete in the Stack? If you discover you don’t have first look, the next question to ask is where you compete within the stack. For instance, will you compete with directly sold campaigns or other line items in the ad server? You’ll need this information to inform your bidding strategy and set expectations on anticipated win-rate.
  • Fixed or Second Price? Private marketplaces have more than one pricing model. Fixed prices (i.e. you always pay a pre-negotiated rate) are typically known as a preferred deal. Second-price auctions are known as private or invitation-only auctions, and you’ll need to bid the highest price in order to win an impression.
  • Do I Need a comScore Top 30 Publisher to Succeed? Many buyers, when considering a PMP deal, prefer to work with the comScore top 30 publishers as a proxy for scale. But by broadening the scope and honing in on other important site characteristics, such as targeted content, you will often reach the campaign results you desire.

Be Transparent

Buyers naturally seek transparency into the inventory they purchase and where their ads will appear. Transparency, however, should be a two-way street since PMP deals will work best when both the sell-side and buy-side commit to it. Why? When you are transparent, you become a better partner in the deal, and you can work with the publisher to ensure your campaign goals are met. We recommend you be transparent about your:

  • Targeting: How will you target your prospects (e.g. audience; contextual, viewability, brand safety)? And more importantly, are you over-targeting? Over-targeting frequently shrinks the size of the audience pool, and can lead to a lower fill rate. An honest dialog about intended targeting may help the publisher restructure inventory in ways that reduce required targeting, and instead drive campaign objectives.
  • Budget: Do you have a daily or campaign-specific budget cap? A dedicated budget for a publisher or a set of publishers? If yes, informing the publisher of the budget constraints will help them ensure they have the right inventory at the right price to meet it.
  • Brands: Share which brands the publishers can expect to see in your creatives so they can assess if those brands are a good match for their audience, as well as remove them from any blacklist or block list.
  • Campaign Objectives & KPIs: You need to view the publisher as your partner in achieving your campaign goals. If you want specific cost-per-action (CPA), share it – along with your existing performance data – with the publishers so they can help optimize the inventory destined for your PMP deals.
  • Bidding Strategy: What’s your bidding strategy? Are you interested in a fixed or dynamic CPM? Which platforms will you use to execute your campaigns? And do you have specific flight dates? Sharing this information will go a long way towards working together to ensure campaign success.


At the end of the day, when you engage with a publisher in a PMP deal, you’re entering into a relationship that can only succeed if both sides communicate their expectations, goals, and results with one another. Here are some tips for better communication:

  • Notify Publisher of Campaign Changes: If you make any changes to your target audience, goals, KPIs or budget, be sure to update the participants so they know how to act on those modifications.
  • Set Expectations: This ties back to sharing your KPIs, but it’s worth reiterating again. If you don’t communicate your expectations, your partners will have no way of knowing whether they’re met, or what they can do to correct the course if necessary.

PMPs are more than a one-off campaign; they’re an investment in a relationship. Individually these deals can be costly in terms of time and effort and may have early hiccups, but be sure to nourish the investment in the overall relationship. That can be done by understanding the inventory structure, operating with transparency and communicating campaign expectations. There are significant rewards to be reaped by sticking with it and working through any issues.

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