Why Site Should Definitely Not Be A Mandatory Object In A Bid Request

@simonjharris recently argued that the IAB should require publishers to disclose their site URL or app name in RTB bid requests. This would be a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. Transparency requirements would push premium publishers out of the market
    The rapid influx of premium publishers to the RTB market is largely driven by the flexibility to provide limited transparency into inventory. Premium publishers with direct sales forces fear that RTB channels will cannibalize revenue from reserved sales. The option to mask inventory details on open exchanges greatly reduces the potential for channel conflict, making RTB testing more palatable for premium publishers. The RTB ecosystem has benefited greatly from the growth of premium inventory, and this growth would have been stifled if publishers were required to provide full URL transparency.
  2. Economic incentives are already in place
    Regulating URL disclosure is also simply not necessary because there are already strong economic incentives for publishers to sell inventory transparently, a point Simon acknowledges. Due to brand safety concerns, many advertisers will not bid for blind bid requests (those that don’t disclose URL). With lower bid density comes greater price reduction and therefore lower closing prices. By providing URL transparency in bid requests, publishers benefit from better RTB yield, and as premium publishers become more familiar with the RTB landscape, many are choosing to provide greater transparency in bid requests.

The IAB’s goal should be to enforce the minimum possible level of standards that enable a functioning advertising marketplace. Free market economics should handle the rest. The decision to make site an optional bid request parameter maximizes marketplace freedom, while incentivizing behavior that benefits both buyers and sellers.

Find the complete OpenRTB 2.3 specs here:https://github.com/openrtb/OpenRTB/blob/master/OpenRTB-API-Specification-Version-2-3-FINAL.pdf