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Mediation for DOOH: Pushing Programmatic Auctions Forward



Eric Lamb

I’m a firm believer that competition drives our industry forward. But there are also times when the best interest of our clients and the industry require collaboration. I’m proud that Vistar has partnered with Place Exchange to support mediation solutions for digital out-of-home (DOOH). 

When Vistar first started to bring programmatic technology into the out-of-home space ten years ago, some in the industry were skeptical about how large a role this would ever play in a media owner’s business. Today, programmatic is an established component of most digital out-of-home revenue operations. There is more opportunity than ever for media owners to profit from digital demand - and that also means there are more companies and tools in the marketplace. 

This proliferation of tools has benefits: more options, flexibility, increased capabilities. Media owners today often divide their inventory across multiple supply-side platform (SSP) partners. This allows media owners to maximize potential demand, as certain SSPs may have exclusive or preferred relationships with demand sources. 

Unfortunately, this practice results in a fractured auction. Media owners make different spots available to different SSPs, which then auction those spots to the buyers connected to that SSP. The promise of programmatic - allowing buyers to compete for inventory - is diminished when auctions are conducted in silos. 

Mediation allows DOOH networks to access demand from all available pipes, while still creating a centralized auction where that demand can compete. In practice, all SSPs put forth the winning bid from their connected buyers, and the mediation layer then conducts an auction to select the highest price from across those bids. This creates a level playing field, and ensures that media owners can maximize yield on any programmatically-sold inventory. 

Media owners using the Vistar ad server - such as Volta Inc. (NYSE: VLTA) (“Volta”), an industry-leading electric vehicle ("EV") charging and media company - can now access the Place Exchange supply-side platforms (SSP) and any advertiser demand flowing through using the existing integration with Vistar.

“Unlocking a single and open ad auction increases all advertisers’ access to Volta’s digital inventory and makes our network more available and attractive to advertisers, including those running retail media campaigns,” said Mike Schott, Executive Vice President of Media at Volta. “Vistar Media’s new mediation solution is Volta’s latest example of how we’re creating a digital-first media experience for marketers — a critical factor in scaling our media business, especially during times of economic uncertainty.”

These partnerships support media owners’ goals of providing the best digital out-of-home programmatic buying experience possible for advertisers. As a result of this new integration, now every media buyer has equal access to a media owner’s full range of programmatic inventory, regardless of supply path. 

I’m proud of the work of the Vistar teams to build this solution, and of the industry collaboration with Place Exchange to bring this to market.

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