SPM and Scaled Partner Management aren’t terms that most publishers are familiar with, but this is how the vast majority of publishers currently access the Google Ad Exchange. If Google pays you directly for your Ad Exchange revenue (and you haven’t already migrated to MCM in the last few months) then you don’t use SPM and this change probably doesn’t affect you. If you access the Ad Exchange through a third party and that third party makes your payments then you are almost certainly using SPM.
SPM is Google’s “Scaled Partner Management” system. It allows organisations like Netlink that have their own SPM account to provide other publishers with access to Google Ad Exchange.
2. What is Ad Manager MCM and how do I get it?
SPM is being replaced by Google Ad Manager MCM – Multi-Client Management. Ad Manager MCM gives partners like Netlink the means to manage monetization for multiple publishers in a way that is efficient, transparent and effective. Importantly MCM is native to Google Ad Manager. SPM was always a separate feature built in the past where AdX and Ad Manager were two distinct products. As AdX and GAM have merged into one product the benefits of everything being under one platform have grown.
Ad Manager MCM exists in two forms:
MCM – Manage My Account – for publishers needing admin access to their own Google Ad Manager 360 account and having their own access to Google Ad Exchange.
MCM – Manage My Inventory – for publishers that don’t have a direct AdX account and don’t want to pay for Ad Manager 360, but want to benefit from features such as Google Ad Exchange and Open Bidding.
3. Why is AdX SPM being retired?
SPM is a legacy feature from when Ad Exchange and Google Ad Manager were distinct products. Part of the motivation to replace SPM with MCM is definitely around the benefits and efficiency of maintaining a single platform. One benefit of this to publishers is that features have historically been slow to appear for SPM users (or sometimes have never materialised at all) because of the need to develop for a second platform. With MCM being native this issue should melt away.
More important than efficiency though is transparency. The ad ecosystem is always evolving and one area where there has been a lot of recent change is around the need for transparency (think of initiatives like ads.txt and sellers.json). SPM was never the most transparent of systems. It was very easy to create SPM child accounts with little transparency or oversight and that has definitely been the subject of abuse. MCM is a big step forward in bringing both transparency and accountability. This is good for the ecosystem as it gives advertisers the confidence to buy ads – which is what we all want.
4. AdX SPM vs Ad Manager MCM
Change is never easy, but the good news is that the change to MCM does come with some advantages to publishers. Ad Manager MCM is a very new product and, even though we had early beta access, we’ve had limited opportunities to explore some of the features. Despite this, it is already clear that MCM offers some advantage over the old SPM product:
- MCM is now a native feature of Google Ad Manager
SPM was a bit of an odd leftover from when Ad Exchange was an entirely separate product to Ad Manager. This meant that features were often slow to be added to SPM and sometimes failed to arrive. We’d expect updates to be much more forthcoming now. Features available to those with direct AdX accounts should be far more accessible to those accessing AdX through an MCM partner.
- Open Bidding Support
Open Bidding is Google’s server-side auction solution. Having Open Bidding allows more SSPs to bid on your inventory without having to add latency through header bidding. Open Bidding is a GAM 360 feature that most publishers have not historically been able to access. By signing up with an MCM partner that has Open Bidding support, publishers can now easily add this powerful benefit to their ad stack.
Publishers using the Manage My Inventory option benefit from the additional programmatic capability of their partners GAM 360 account. That means access to Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals that have not always been available to all. Both offer great ways of delivering high CPM deals to advertisers.
5. Who can offer MCM?
If like the vast majority of publishers, you do not have a direct AdX account then you will need to access AdX through a partner. Whilst there has historically been a large number of SPM partners, the number of companies able to offer Ad Exchange access is set to decrease steeply under MCM. This is part of the drive to ensure quality and transparency.
Partners now need to maintain certain standards in order to have access to MCM. These are a less strict version of the Google Certified Publishing Partner criteria, so the simple answer is to look for a GCPP certified partner to work with.6. What if my partners can't offer MCM?
Many existing partners will not meet the criteria for MCM. The inventory quality criteria in particular are proving difficult for partners as to how historically they have historically have not maintained the level of quality control now being expected. When SPM is retired those partners will not be able to help their publishers with AdX.
As migration to MCM is not a “one-click” process, we would advise that every publisher accessing AdX through a 3rd party check that they have been accepted for MCM and start talking to other partners immediately if that is not the case.
7. How difficult is it to migrate to MCM?
The migration process isn’t too involved, but it is not instant. As part of the migration, every publisher and site has to be approved by Google. Officially that one step can take up to two weeks, the system does also require retagging, which can add time.
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