13 Tips to Debug Deal IDs to get them to Spend 

Gourmet Ads first started running programmatically in 2012, over 7 years ago and we started transaction with Deal IDs or PMPs 2 years later in 2014 (Gourmet Ads helped launch Appnexus Deals @ the London Summit). Since then we’ve launched Smart Deals which are Deal IDs built with Machine Learning and Data Science to surface unique inventory sets like true 70% Viewability. These days, Deal IDs plays a significant role across our Programmatic Advertising business.

Back when we launched Deals to advertisers, we had a number of problems with getting them to run with advertisers. Whilst the experience level on the buy side has increased significantly since we first launched, we though it might be a good idea to remind or refresh buyers what could go wrong and how to Debug Deal IDs to get them to spend.

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What is a Deal ID?

A Deal ID (or Deal Identifier) is a unique id number (sometimes referred to as a token) given to a programmatic buyer by a publisher / seller which allows the buyer to target specific inventory. A Deal Id can include a variety of items such as floor price, inventory, country, domain list etc.

Deal ID Debugging

Every DSP and SSP is different when it comes to setting up Deal IDs and Optimizing them, however the principles suggested here are written in a generic way. Its fair to say that a Deal not getting Bid Requests or Response needs to be looked at. There are a lot of Deal ID Debugging items here to run through. Don’t discount reaching out to your DSP Account Manager as they usually have tools and debugging processes that might quickly identify issues at play.

Two Approaches to Deal Debugging

When approaching a Deal that has issues, it should fall into one of the two scenarios ;

  1. Deal has No Sold Impressions

  2. Deal has Sold Impressions

Generally speaking, a Deal ID with no spend suggests a significant issue is occurring and generally requires more investigation than a deal that is already spending. Usually a deal spending is easier to get more scale by tweaking a setting either on the buy or sell side.

On the SSP side most now have Deal Health Reports that can be run, these usually provide some sort of insight to what the problem could be. Also, for this article we won’t go into Pre-bidding solutions (like IAS) used on the buy side, as that’s like going down a rabbit hole.

Is there an Integration between the DSP and SSP

Might sound silly, but not ever DSP is integrated with every SSP. Sometimes they might be integrated but the Deal ID mechanism might not be setup. So whilst you can trade via Open Exchange, Deal IDs might not work.

Action >> Double Check the DSP is actually integrated into the SSP to run a Deal ID

Is the Media Format Integration between the DSP and SSP

Similar to the first point, but there could be an integration between the DSP and the SSP, but for some reason the DSP might not have done the integration specifically for a media type like Native.

Action >> Double Check with the DSP is integrated into the SSP for that Media Type

Is the Buyer Blocking the Seller?

Often when buyer seats are setup, they by default block all sellers (as a precaution) and they will need to Allow the sell side seat to be activated before they can start buying on the seller’s inventory.

Action >> Double Check the Seller is enabled to be bought and not Blocked by the Buyer

Are all the Domains in the Deal ID Audited or Approved

Some buyers rely on whitelists in their DSP and thus will only buy impressions on domains listed on the whitelist. If all the domains on the deal are not audited or on the whitelist then the Deal ID won’t run.

Action >> Ask the buyer for a Whitelist of Domains setup for the Deal and make sure that all domains are audited.

Is the Deal Setup under the Correct Seat ID?

Some DSPs and SSPs require that deals are setup correctly under the correct seat or targeted to the correct seat. This causes a great deal of issues, as most people don’t really know what their seat is let alone what the correct seat is. In addition, a DSP ID might be totally different than the mapped ID in the SSP which can often confusion.

Action >> Buyer to check with the DSP the correct ID or entity. Seller to check with the SSP that the deal is setup correctly under the correct seat.

Creative Auditing

These days Sellers pretty much require all creatives be audited by a 3rd Party or via the DSP. This helps ensure Ad quality and no bad players allow to run. Some Sellers will setup a SSP that only allows audited creatives to run. If the creative isn’t audited, then it wont run. We’ve recently seen a number of buyer not even declaring a brand for a creative and its coming through as “Unknown” as a Seller, allowing Unknown creatives to run is highly risky and as such most will block it.

Action >> Check Creatives are Audited for the Correct Brand> it might be worth providing the seller the creative ID (for the SSP) so they can investigate on their side.

Brand Blocked by Seller

Similar to Creative Auditing, some Sellers will setup a Deal ID that only allows a particular brand or brands to run via a Deal ID. If the Brand is incorrect from what the seller had setup the Deal wont run.

Action >> Check Creatives are Audited for the Correct Brand and that the seller isn’t blocking that brand.

Our DSP is Bidding but no Sold Impressions (Price)

9 times out of 10 this is due to the Price Floor of the Deal setup on the Sell Side. Often both the Seller and Buyer don’t take into consideration DSP or SSP fees which can be as high as 30% higher. From a Sell Side perspective, its best to bid 25-30% higher than then the price quoted by the seller.

Action >> Check that your minimum bid price is more than the Price being requested by the Seller.

Our DSP is Bidding but no Sold Impressions (Media Formats)

As I said above, most of the time this is due to pricing issues, but another scenario is that the Deal setup doesn’t include the right Media Type or Correct Ad Size. It could be you are trying to buy Instream Video but the Deal could be only setup for Outstream Video.

Action >> Check with the Seller that the Media Type or Ad Sizes are allowed in the Deal.

Our DSP is Bidding but no Sold Impressions (Expired)

Sometimes Deals have expiry dates and will automatically stop running irrespective if the deal is still being bid on.

Action >> Check with the Seller that Deal ID is still live.

Deal is running, but has a Low Bid Rate

In our experience, this usually suggests something on the Buy Side is incorrect. It could be campaign pacing is not bidding enough (as its rate limited), there could be capping in place like 1/24 or similar or could be that the campaign targeting is way too tight.

Action >> Ensure that the campaign is setup as broadly as possible

Deal is Running has a High Bid Rate but a low Win Rate

This issue usually suggests that Seller has a significant amount of competition for the impressions you are bidding on and you’re losing most probably because of the price or priority. This could be when the Seller has created a generic inventory pool ie like 70% Viewability.

Action >> Speak to the Seller to understand what could be occurring. Two suggestions to remedy this is increase bid price to see if the Win Rate increases, or ask the Seller if your Deal could be placed on a higher priority level in the SSP.

Create Reporting, Deal Dashboards or Email Alerts

At Gourmet Ads we’ve created a range of internal tools (built upon APIs) for our Programmatic Analysts and Programmatic Account Managers. Its kind of an early warning signal to highlight deals that could be struggling to run. We’ve developed a series of internal Deal Debugging work flows to try and get the Deals running without going to the buyer.

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