Publisher Resources

What You Should Know About Private Marketplace Deals

Ben Morrisroe, Marketing Coordinator

22 March 2019

We know why you’re here. You're trying to maximise the amount of revenue you get for impressions on your site and you just keep hearing about private marketplace deals. You have lots of questions.

What are they?

What's the difference between PMPs and other programmatic deals?

How do I set one up by myself?

Well ponder no more, we have the answers you're looking for packed into this blog. Dig in if you want to be the bouncer of your own exclusive party. Invite only.

Imagine a private club behind a velvet rope. Private marketplaces are customizable, invitation-only marketplaces where premium publishers make their inventory and audience available to selected buyers. Private marketplaces allow publishers to release select, premium inventory to a select group of advertisers willing to pay more.

Much like a private club, publishers curate a safe environment for buyers in exchange for a higher price. With private marketplaces, you get the best of both worlds with direct relationships between publishers and advertisers seen in traditional media buying, all while eliminating a lot of the manual work thanks to programmatic technology.

This means you get full site transparency, brand safety and programmatic buying efficiency. Buyers now have a priority buying option at a specific floor price before the inventory is open to the larger pool of advertisers.


Programmatic Deals

PMPs (private marketplaces) fall under the broader category of programmatic deals which includes preferred deals and programmatic guaranteed deals as well. These deals allow negotiation of high prices for premium inventory and take priority over buyers that come through the open auction.

They are all packaged differently but essentially allow the publisher to sell higher quality ad inventory packages (built around audience data, impression attributes or content type) at a premium over what they could fetch in an open auction. But what the hell is the difference between them?


What’s the Difference Between a Private Auction and a Preferred Deal

Private auctions involve offering inventory on a publisher’s site to a selected pool of buyers and gives them priority access within a small auction before the inventory goes to the open auction. They will bid above a negotiated minimum price in exchange for this but are not locked in to buy a certain volume of impressions and so can buy at their discretion.

Preferred deals, on the other hand, are usually a one-to-one deal where the advertiser is given priority access to a site's inventory before others for a fixed, negotiated CPM. If the buyer decides not to bid or bids below the negotiated CPM, the inventory goes to the open auction. Essentially a buyer gets exclusive access to inventory before it is available to everyone else in private and then open auctions at a pre-negotiated fixed price without any commitment to purchase.

The amount of impressions isn’t guaranteed, but the audience is, as the buyers DSP can use audience data to screen every impression before they buy.


So What is a Programmatic Guaranteed Deal?

Programmatic guaranteed deals are slightly different in that advertisers agree to purchase a guaranteed volume of impressions for a fixed CPM on a publisher’s site. Once this deal has been made, the corresponding inventory is sold and reserved for that deal. Advertisers with a programmatic guaranteed deal know their target audience exactly and are guaranteed volumes.

Why is this different from direct deals? With direct deals, the publisher owns any audience data and decides when the ad server should deliver the impression. In programmatic guaranteed deals, the advertiser uses their own audience targeting data and decides which impression to buy. Direct deals are also carried out manually with publishers and advertisers striking deals and purchasing inventory, while programmatic guaranteed deals can avail of automation.


Quickfire Quiz to test what you have just learned!

If I am inventory with a pre-negotiated floor price and offered to a select group of buyers, what deal am I in?

If I am inventory with higher priority than a PMP and were sold at a fixed price but with no guaranteed volumes, what deal am I in?

If I am inventory sold at a fixed price with a fixed volume of impressions what deal am I in?

Right, now that we know the difference between the different programmatic deals, let's dive into private marketplaces in more detail. Buckle up!

Where do Private Marketplace Deals Come in the Ad Server?

PMP deals take priority over open marketplaces but fall below preferred deals and guaranteed business, like site sponsorships and direct sales in a publishers ad server most of the time. (Header bidding and SSP integrations can change this order based on temporary CPMs and other factors, but that is for another blog!)


Benefits of a PMP deal to the Publisher

Publishers get to decide which buyers are invited into the private marketplace, giving them control over which buyers have access to premium inventory. PMPs also let publishers sell complete inventory packages priced at a better price.

Higher CPMs: It's so exclusive! There is a big demand for premium, high performing inventory for top advertisers as brand safety and other quality issues like viewability continue to grow. This means more competition within your PMP and a higher price for your impressions.

Automated: It's not quite as plug-and-play as an open auction, but they are still automated within DSPs and SSPs which means less work than direct sales.

Better relationships: you can get to know who is buying your inventory packages and can offer them deals and first look privileges.


Benefits of a PMP deal to the Advertiser

Buyers get increased transparency and control. Buyers can ensure things like viewability and can make sure they are showing up against relevant and brand-safe content. Buyers may even get to use additional valuable information, like a publisher’s first-party data and the right of first refusal over impressions. Both parties get to leverage programmatic buying, much like in an RTB auction, improving efficiency for everyone.


What is a Deal ID?

Unlike in the open market, a deal ID is needed for any private marketplace deals. It is a unique string of characters defining things like priority, transparency, floor pricing, or data (depending on what platform you’re using). It is assigned to the inventory package which allows it to be purchased programmatically through a DSP.  

Media Buyers Biggest Issues with Private Marketplaces

Insufficient inventory in PMPs is a big issue. It could be because inventory is reserved for guaranteed deals, sponsorships or takeovers. It could be because excessive data overlays for audience targeting on both the buy side and the sell side which reduce scale dramatically so a buyer can only see a small piece of inventory.


What Problems do Publishers Have with PMPs?

Bidders could take advantage of publishers. Bidders can estimate what they think they need to bid on the open auction to get the impression, and with the PMP being fixed, they will just choose whichever is cheaper and buy it there.

Sales overhead. To start a PMP, the publisher needs to reach out to advertisers. They need to spend time and energy creating and setting up these deals with their selected advertisers.


What you get with Publift

When you enter our Publift community, you gain instant access to pre-existing buyer deals and private auctions which are usually only available to large publishers. We take care of setup, troubleshooting and reporting for you.

The benefit to you? Well, you get more premium ads which, in turn, generate more revenue for you.

We have a dedicated team that liaises with the top trading agency desks in the country. We update them regularly with our new client portfolio and ask that such clients are included on agency whitelists. These whitelists serve as a catalogue that advertisers look into for publishing sites they want their campaigns to appear.



Private marketplace deals are a great way for you to make the most out of your premium impressions in a mostly automated way. It is part of the programmatic deals category which includes preferred and guaranteed deals which allow you to charge a premium for inventory in exchange for priority in the marketplace and increased quality from a brand safety, audience targeting and viewability perspective. For anyone looking to go solo, IAB has a great checklist to help guide you.

They can be cumbersome to implement, particularly for smaller publishers who lack the reach or larger premium sellers but by joining the Publift network you are automatically included on pre-existing deals with premium advertisers. So what are you waiting for?


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