Google cuts out third-party DSPs from YouTube inventory

By year end, YouTube programmatic ads will only be available through Google's platform

Jeff Fraser August 07, 2015

By the end of this year, YouTube inventory will no longer be available on Google’s DoubleClick programmatic ad exchange, meaning advertisers will no longer be able to use their demand-side platform of choice to bid on YouTube preroll ads.

YouTube inventory will still be available programmatically, but advertisers will need to use Google’s DSP, DoubleClick Bid Manager, to access it.

The news was first reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, and was confirmed Thursday evening in a post by Google VP of display and video advertising Neal Mohan on DoubleClick’s blog. Mohan said¬†only a small amount of the inventory YouTube sells is processed through DoubleClick, and Google is shifting its development resources to focus on other sales channels that advertisers have shown more interest in, such as DoubleClick Bid Manager and Google Preferred.

Google made YouTube’s TrueView format available to purchase programmatically exclusively through DoubleClick Bid Manager in April. Mohan said advertisers who have invested in programmatic TrueView via DBM have seen higher engagement and view-through rates than other video formats, and demand for the product has been growing.

However, dropping YouTube from DoubleClick effectively walls off YouTube inventory from third-party programmatic buying platforms. Advertisers and media agencies that use those platforms won’t be able to buy targeted YouTube ads in real-time, unless they go through DBM (and pay Google transaction fees).

TubeMogul, for example, will no longer be able to programmatically buy YouTube inventory, though it can still serve ads on behalf of advertisers that make direct buys on YouTube. “For advertisers, this is an unfortunate development as they are now effectively prohibited from buying non-skippable video ads and from using data for targeting on YouTube,” said Brett Wilson, TubeMogul CEO and co-founder, in a statement to Marketing.

He said the move won’t have much of an impact on TubeMogul’s bottom line, since the property currently makes up 5% of the inventory its clients buy.

Google has been widely criticized for making its media inaccessible to third-party technology vendors that compete with its DoubleClick marketing platform, and has been accused by some competitors of using exclusive access to its owned media properties as leverage to drive advertisers to adopt its ad tech platforms.

The decision to remove YouTube inventory from DoubleClick follows on the heels of a decision in October that effectively disabled third-party data management platforms like Neustar and Krux from collecting advertising data across the Google Display Network. Google also doesn’t allow independent measurement services to measure the viewability of ads on its sites, despite strong demand for it from advertisers; viewability measurement for Google sites is only available via its proprietary measurement product, Active View.

Jeff Green, founder and CEO of programmatic platform The Trade Desk, said in an email that while YouTube inventory represents only 2% of The Trade Desk’s business, he worries removing it from the exchange is a step away from the open marketplace ethos at the heart of programmatic. “Programmatic thrives on an open marketplace,” he said. “Publishers want to monetize their inventory by welcoming as wide a range of appropriate buyers as possible, and buyers want to access that inventory via their platform of choice.”

Green said while YouTube was once one of the biggest sources of inventory in programmatic, and it has been a catalyst in driving more premium publishers to push quality content through the channel, it has become a lot less accessible to programmatic buyers. He’s disappointed to see Google finally pull the plug.

“We hope and expect that Google will open YouTube inventory back to the marketplace at the encouragement of their direct clients on the sell and buy sides,” he added.