Programmatic direct is the key to unlocking French inventory (Column)

Grant Le Riche is managing director of TubeMogul Canada

The Canadian programmatic market has come a long way in the last few years. Online video ads available through open exchanges have grown significantly in the last six months, and Canada led the world with triple-digit growth in mobile inventory over that same time. Major advertising agencies have come full circle in recognizing the benefits of automated buying and selling.

Programmatic direct gives advertisers access to premium inventory at scale, complete with geographic targeting and audience data

Grant le riche

But still, some of us aren’t speaking the same language, and it’s affecting brands across Canada.

There’s an alarming shortage of video inventory available to brands and marketers interested in reaching Canada’s French-speaking population. There are over 9.5 million French speakers who live in Canada. French Canadians make up 22% of Canada’s total population, and 90% of all Canada’s French-speaking population lives in Quebec.

French inventory is hard to come by – sites that end in .FR make up less than 1% (0.77%) of Canada’s total open exchange inventory, and average costs are 19% higher than .com inventory. This presents a legitimate problem for brands and advertisers who want to target this population.

Many ad networks may claim to have access to the elusive French inventory, but cannot provide the transparency in delivery and performance that brands need.

Given the ratio of French-speaking citizens to Canada’s total population, it begs the question: why is there so little French inventory available on the open market? In a word: economics. French publishers know their inventory is in high-demand, so they charge higher CPMs – and are hesitant to make their ad space available on open exchanges for fear of cannibalizing prices.

Programmatic direct, which uses automated technology to facilitate existing deals between publishers and advertisers, can solve this problem. Instead of bidding for impressions on an open market, advertisers and publishers pre-negotiate the media cost and location of the ads served across the publisher’s inventory, but the execution of the ad decisioning and ad serving is handled by software. Oftentimes advertisers will split their marketing budget between a combination of programmatic direct and open exchange inventory to measure both simultaneously and shift budget to the better performing medium.

Programmatic direct gives advertisers access to premium inventory at scale, complete with geographic targeting and audience data. It also lets publishers retain control over the price of their real estate, and provides them the ability to monetize their first-party data through audience extension – two ways they can increase revenue. This is just the ticket to get French publishers onboard the programmatic train.

Most importantly, the programmatic direct phenomenon has been accelerating steadily in Canada. From January to July, the total number of video ad impressions bought directly from publishers through programmatic channels on TubeMogul’s platform increased by over 4,000 percent. In Quebec, they increased by over 5,600 percent. Reports from eMarketer show exceptional growth in the programmatic direct display arena as well, with marketers able to access three times more inventory through programmatic direct than they can through open exchanges.

With both open exchange and programmatic direct inventory forecast to continue their explosive growth, this could be the solution to Canada’s crisis of communication.

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