AdExchanger

Rubicon Got Rid Of its Buy-Side Fees – But Who Else Is Charging Them?

  • The push for ad tech fee transparency is in full swing.

    Last week, Rubicon Project got rid of its buy-side fees, which will cut its take rate in half.

    While removing buy-side fees will help Rubicon’s reputation with publishers (The Guardian sued Rubicon over the fees) and buyers, the real drive for transparency comes from CMOs demanding to know how many media dollars go to publishers, not ad tech.

    Weeks before Rubicon’s announcement, Adobe Advertising Cloud required its largest partners to disclose their buy-side fees.

    Some Adobe clients had discovered hidden buy-side fees coming from the exchanges, said Brett Wilson, VP of Adobe Advertising Cloud and former CEO of TubeMogul, adding that some marketers soon will audit programmatic partners to ensure stated fees match collected fees. Those developments gave Adobe the leverage to demand fee transparency.

    But some exchanges don’t charge buy-side fees for every DSP, meaning that marketers can’t assume fee structures will be consistent.

    AdExchanger asked 18 display, mobile, video and native exchanges if they charged buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees.

    Twelve of the 18 exchanges said they did not charge buy-side fees. One said it charged buy-side fees, while another only said its fees were “transparent and private.” Of the remaining four companies, two declined to comment, and the rest didn’t answer. [Updated numbers reflect new responses from SpotX and Sharethrough]

    Below are the responses in alphabetical order.

    APPNEXUS

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    AppNexus charges a single fee called the “Seller Auction Service Charge” (SASC) to enterprise publishers, networks, header bidding publishers and external supply partners.

    The average SASC fee charged in Q3 2017 was 8.5%. The exact fee is transparent to each partner.

    For its DSP customers, AppNexus charges a single fee.

    FYBER

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    “Inneractive exchange went fully transparent over a year ago and continues to be so after being acquired by Fyber,” said Fyber President Offer Yehudai. “In Fyber's Unified Auction, all bids come in and compete fairly in either first or second-price auctions and the sell-side fees are deducted after the impression is cleared.”

    GOOGLE

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: Google does not charge AdX buyer fees. 

    For both its SSP and DSP businesses, the only fees Google charges are disclosed in contracts.

    Sellers on AdX negotiate a revenue share directly with Google that’s transparent to them, according to a Google spokesperson. That share varies based on deal type (open auction vs. private marketplace, for example).

    On the buy side, customers of DoubleClick Bid Manager pay a tech fee disclosed in the contract with the customer. And they know how fees vary by deal type, Google said.

    INDEX EXCHANGE

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    “We pioneered transparency in the supply chain. It's certainly validating to see more peers coming closer to where we've been the entire time,” said Index Exchange CEO Andrew Casale. “Our fee has always been sell-side only. And has always been 100% transparent.” 

    MOBFOX (MATOMY MEDIA)

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No comment.

    NATIVO

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No. 

    “Nativo has always taken the view that ad tech must add value to the supply chain, and should only charge one side of the transaction,” said Chris Rooke, Nativo's SVP of strategy and operations. “We remain committed to creating a transparent ecosystem that serves the best interests of sellers, buyers and consumers.”

    OATH

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No response.

    OPENX

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    “OpenX has not and does not charge buyer fees or other nondisclosed platform fees of any kind,” said OpenX President John Gentry. “Our business model is a revenue share with the publisher or application developer which aligns with our focus on maximizing revenue for the publisher. We have a detailed contract with every partner that outlines our business terms.”

    PUBNATIVE

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    "We have never taken any buy-side fees and have always been transparent to our publishers in terms of the value that we provide,” said Eddie de Guia, managing director and co-founder at PubNative. “By not taking buy-side fees, we help our demand partners to properly value our inventory, thus increasing liquidity in our exchange. Ultimately, this way we maximize overall yield to our publishers.”

    RHYTHMONE (INCLUDING YUME)

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No response. 

    PUBMATIC

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: Yes.

    “At PubMatic, our fees are transparent with the vast majority of them coming from our publisher customers,” said PubMatic CMO Jeffrey Hirsch. “We do have agreements with buyers that include fees to cover the tools and technology we provide to buyers.” PubMatic said these fees vary “according to value provided to the publisher or the buyer.”

    But PubMatic says it includes measures of transparency. “We have been outspoken about transparency and all of our contractual agreements contain transparent pricing parameters – there are no hidden fees,” Hirsch said. 

    SHARETHROUGH

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    "The Sharethrough native exchange and SSP operate with full transparency," said Sharethrough CEO and co-founder Dan Greenberg. "In order for our publishing partners to maximize their revenue in a very competitive landscape, they need to work with companies that are transparent and act as true partners, with the publishers' best interests in mind."

    SONOBI

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: Fees are transparent, but declined to answer if it charges buy-side fees.

    "Non-programmatic dollars cannot be moved to programmatically powered with a 20% to 30% take rate on the supply side,” said John Donahue, chief product and marketing officer at Sonobi. “Our fees are private and 100% transparent to all partners and have long been designed to maximize working media for our partners."

    SMAATO

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No response.

    SPOTX

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    "SpotX is committed to full transparency with all of our partners," said SpotX SVP of global operations Josh Cariveau.

    TELARIA (TREMOR VIDEO)

     Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    Telaria has a 100% transparent fee structure.

    “Transparency is core to who we are as a sell-side software company,” said Mark Zagorski, CEO of Telaria. “To best serve our clients, they need to trust that every fee is clear, every buyer is vetted and every partner is premium.

    “As the stakes get higher with the growth of long-form video and connected TV, we are taking an aggressive position on transparency and hope that the industry follows suit.”

    TRIPLELIFT

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No.

    “TripleLift has always had a single fee applied in the exchange,” said CEO Eric Berry. “We believe it more closely aligns everyone's incentives with marketer outcomes and publisher monetization. It does a disservice to the industry to have anything else.”

    TWITTER (MOPUB)

    Does it charge buy-side fees or other nontransparent fees: No comment.

    Updated to include additional detail from Google. Additional updates: SpotX changed its response from "no comment" and Sharethrough added its response.

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