Though ‘direct’ still accounts for the lion’s share of publisher revenue  (71% compared to 29% for indirect), our 2013 survey of publishers reveals a massive jump from 2011 in the proportion of publishers using supply-side platforms (SSPs) to sell inventory, as well as increases in the use of ad exchanges and data management platforms (DMPs).

Do you sell inventory through any of the following?

Part of our Online Advertising Survey carried out in August and September last year in partnership with advertising technology company Rubicon Project, the Online Publishers Survey Report is based on responses from a sample of more than 100 verified publishers.

The research explores online publishing trends, including revenue, use of RTB, advertising networks, SSPs and DMPs, and private marketplaces.

Demand-side and supply-side platforms

At a time when ‘Big Data’ is very much in the spotlight, the rise of RTB means that data is playing an ever-increasing role in decision-making about the buying and selling of ad inventory.

In October we published the Data Management Platforms Buyer’s Guide, which detailed companies providing a DMP, and discussed the surge in interest in DMPs in 2013. This was fuelled by the strong growth exhibited by the programmatic buying sector, and increasing internal pressure to explore big data.

Both the latter two trends are illustrated in the Online Publishers Survey Report, which shows 22% of publishers are currently using a DMP. The importance of first- and third- party data in allowing for better targeting and ad relevance is clearly having an effect on the display buying and selling landscape.

Supply-side platforms have seen the biggest increase in use; up from 35% in 2011 to 67% in 2013.

SSPs have now firmly established themselves as a way of helping publishers control how they sell each impression, maximise their advertising revenues, and better manage and price their inventory.

Programmatic buying steps to the forefront

Publisher income from online display advertising continues to show healthy growth, which is accounted for in part by the increases in inventory sold indirectly.

As the use of RTB through SSPs and exchanges becomes more the norm for publishers, the stoic advertising network has appeared not to succumb to predictions of its demise, with the proportion of publishers selling through them plateauing but not declining.

Has revenue from online display advertising increased or decreased?

Programmatic advertising promises to be the shining star of the online advertising world in 2014; a trend that is discussed in our recently published report Programmatic Buying: Beyond RTB.

This report explores the new programmatic direct landscape and the implications for demand- and supply-side players.

Danny Hopwood, Head of Platform EMEA, at VivaKi, part of Publicis Groupe, commented on the publisher survey findings:

Speaking from the buy-side we have seen great performance from our display activity this year [2013] which can only mean we have found audience in the publishers’ inventory and the publishers have monetised their inventory appropriately. I’m not sure this comment could have been made prior to RTB becoming a mainstream buying mechanic.