Programmatic and the concerns around inventory quality
There’s a common misconception that all programmatic buying is limited to remnant inventory, but that isn’t always the case. This perception may finally change in 2015.
Remnant inventory is loosely defined as ad space on a site that a publisher has been unable to sell, so it's typically given a lower-cost. In order to finally be sold, remnant inventory is usually offloaded to ad networks or blind, RTB ad exchanges. Conversely, premium inventory is ad space on a site that a publisher has deemed higher-quality, and subsequently attempts to sell at a higher price. For example, inventory could be deemed premium because it's located above-the-fold, on a popular section of the site or for other reasons.
While it’s not advisable to make broad characterizations about what specifically renders inventory “premium,” it’s safe to say that many large publishers are making their inventory available programmatically, specifically through private marketplaces. That inventory most likely will not be of the exact quality as that sold by the sales team, but that doesn’t necessarily make it remnant or poor quality.
In a recent white paper, Rubicon Project reported they are using smart technology to combat their buyers’ exposure to sub-par inventory. Technology lets them banish high-offending inventory categories and review every new seller property that wants to sell on the platform. That’s just one example of how tech providers are attacking inventory-quality concerns.
There are also some publishers that only sell their inventory through programmatic buying channels. Some smaller, niche publishers don’t have dedicated sales teams, so they are likely to feed all available inventory to their automated guaranteed platforms.
Suffice it to say that it is very possible that we'll see more high-quality inventory being sold programmatically in 2015.