A study into publishers’ biggest programmatic bugbears has found that almost half (45%) are frustrated by not being able to have demand partners compete with each other on every impression.

Just under half of publishers (49%) say they are ‘forced’ to use passbacks and floor prices to maximise yield of programmatic demand solutions, often referred to as ‘waterfalling’ or ‘daisy-chaining’ – a practice that’s been going on with ad agencies for a while, but more recently supply-side platforms (SSPs).

This process involves giving each partner the chance to buy an impression before offering it to the next if it is not purchased. Publishers will initially sell impressions with one SSP at a high price, before moving on to second or thirds SSPs until inventory sells.


Shani Higgins, CEO of study co-ordinator Technorati, said the research process highlighted where publishers need help in adapting to a programmatic-driven ad economy.

“Publishers need to ensure that every impression is sold at its highest possible value. When sequential auctions or manually estimating bids for buyers are the only options for a publisher, both the buy and sell side suffer from lack of true competition and access,” she commented.

Waterfalling is also a laborious process, with 43% of publishers citing it as ‘inefficient and not as effective as I’d like to be” in the report.

Other qualms included not having internal developers with the resources to support the publisher’s needs (44%), and not having the right technology in place (43%).