Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) sometimes sit in an unenviable position of balancing relationships between advertisers and publishers. They need to secure demand for their supply and at the same time make sure the pricing and fill rate satisfies their publishers. Because the SSP sits between these two parties they sometimes get stuck trying to keep both parties happy.
Mobile publishers can sometimes have unrealistic expectations, requesting either close to 100% fill or a very high CPM and in some cases both things. Usually after a publisher has become experienced in the mobile industry their expectations become more realistic, but it can take some time particularly if they are coming from the desktop environment where the fill rates are typically higher and more consistent.
Advertisers on the other hand can be very demanding in their requirements, looking for very specific audience segments: certain geographic locations, timeframes, demographics and quality of sites or apps. They tend to want to squeeze as much profit out of each deal as possible even though the more granular the targeting required the higher the CPM should be.
Advertisers can be under immense pressure to ensure the fulfillment of the campaign and many times they will peddle the deal to multiple publisher or SSPs to make sure they meet their goal. Typically when they present the deal to the different parties they do not parcel it up, but offer the entire campaign or a large chunk of it to each publisher so each one believes they have a large advertising campaign to fill. This is where the problems arise.
The publishers or SSPs ramp up their traffic to the meet the demand. In the case of an SSP, they may reach out directly to a publisher to request additional traffic or traffic that is very targeted and at a higher volume in order to meet the requirements of the advertiser. But since the advertiser has asked multiple parties to send the same volume of traffic, it will most likely be supplied by multiple publishers and the campaign will be completed prior to any publisher sending the full amount of traffic they were asked to provide. This scenario can cause challenges for SSPs in managing relationships.
To further exacerbate the problem, there is typically a delay between when a campaign has completed and when the publisher is notified, so the publisher continues to send traffic that does not fill. If the campaign ends over a weekend or holiday then a publisher could end up sending traffic that is not needed for a day or longer. This can put a strain on relationships.
Publishers are usually excited and willing to send traffic for a special campaign, particularly if it is expected to bring better fill at a higher price, but if the campaign ends up requiring a lot less traffic then originally anticipated it can make them unhappy. Targeted campaigns to a specific geo or demo typically require some work for the publisher to set up, so publishers expect a certain ROI for this additional effort. When publishers are continually informed about special campaigns which do not live up to the original requirements, they become less willing to accept them in the future or they begin to ask for certain guarantees. It is at this point that it can be challenging for an SSP to manage these relationships with the publishers and keep them happy so they will accept special campaigns in the future.
It is understandable and expected that advertisers want to make as much money as possible off a campaign, but they need to do a better job of communicating with their publishers and SSPs about what their expectations should be and how much traffic they really require from them. Otherwise they can poison their relationships with their partners, and the SSPs will be left in a position where the publishers look at them as the little boy who cried wolf each time they present them with a new special campaign.