ConnectAd Chronicles

Supplychain Object - Why your sellers.json needs a side-kick

Today we want to talk about a cool “little” thing called the Supplychain object. Along with its companion sellers.json the Supplychain Object is a tool to increase transparency, trust and efficiency in programmatic advertising. More specifically, the Supplychain Object documents the chain of who is receiving money for an impression. And as already mentioned before this is strongly related to what sellers.json does – a topic our blog has previously already covered here. Need a bit of a refresh? Here you go …

Sellers.json is an initiative launched by the IAB in 2019. It works as a json file hosted by SSPs and basically declares the publishers and inventory providers the SSPs are partnered with and whose inventory they have permission to sell. This allows buyers to find information about the final seller of an impression opportunity, enables them to quickly ascertain the relationship they have with the inventory source and whether it is being offered to them directly from the publisher or via a reseller. To sum it up: Sellers.json is sort of a directory of authorized sellers.

… but now back to the actual subject –sellers.json’s famous little side kick!

Let us introduce you to: the Supplychain Object

The oRTB SupplyChain Object (also known as SCO or SCHAIN) was announced alongside sellers.json back in 2019 and helps to remove anonymity in the supply chain ever since.

What it is (and how it differs from sellers.json)

Like sellers.json, the Supplychain Object is about unraveling the mystery of how impressions are sold to buyers. But while sellers.json only reveals information about the final seller of an impression, the Supplychain Object shows all intermediaries involved in the sale of a particular impression as it makes its way through complicated digital ad systems and therefore provides a lot more context. But the probably most important thing is that the Supplychain Object documents the chain of who is receiving money for an impression.

Sellers.json is a published and publicly accessible JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file that sits on the root directory of an ad platform’s website. In this case -> ConnectAd's sellers.json file.

We must admit: The whole thing is not quite easy to understand. That’s why we simplify it a little bit and work with a parable.

If you imagine a website owner as a kid allowing his friends (authorized reseller partners) to play with his toys (ads), sellers.json is like a map that shows how the kid's toys (ads) are being passed from one friend (partner) to another. And while this map (sellers.json) helps everyone to understand who is handling the toys (ads) and makes sure they are being passed to the right friends (trusted partners), the Supplychain Object provides even more important information as it reveals who isn’t playing carefully and for example damaging the toy (who of the intermediaries involved is causing issues like for example reselling ad impressions to duplicate the number of auctions and get more money).

How it works (together with sellers.json)

The Supplychain Object is a json object which is passed with each bid request. It contains any entities that participate in the sale of a piece of inventory and works by housing the identity of each intermediary in a “node”. With access to the Supplychain Object, a buyer can traverse the supply chain and is able to cross reference each node in the supply chain against sellers.json (and ads.txt). Like this it’s possible to gain insights and information about who the sellers in the supply chain are. Armed with all that information buyers can start to protect their spending from shady sellers peddling fraudulent traffic as well as from those vendors who are simply reselling impressions to duplicate the number of auctions for the same impression to drive up the cost of it.

A publisher or reseller has been given an ID, here as an example value 001, on our SSP and this is being pushed as the SID value in the PreBid.js Schain module.
This is referenced on our SSP's sellers.json file.
When a page loads on the publisher's website and the ad placement requests an ad, ConnectAd sends a bid request to the DSP (buyer) including the SCHAIN bid data in the bid request, passing details up the bid stream.

Why it is a must-have (and not just only nice-to have) 

Sellers.json and the Supplychain Object working in a tandem allows buyers to see (in real time and at a bid level) the supply path that any bid request has taken. This allows them to optimize their supply paths and ensure they are bidding on the most direct route to the inventory. And that is very important, because after all, the fewer intermediaries there are in the chain, the less value is lost, Or as we already talked about in one of our favorite blog posts ever: Why one hop only is king!  And that doesn't just apply to the buy side.

Fact is that an invalid Supplychain Object leads to a drop in revenue because DSPs are nowadays watching very closely to see whether you are compliant and transparent or not. That's why it's extremely important that everyone – including SSPs and exchanges & intermediaries – in the chain do their homework. Therefore: If you haven’t done it yet, go and set up your Supplychain Object NOW!

Because transparency matters

Good to know: We at ConnectAd are meticulous about ensuring that our partners have their ads.txt, sellers.json and Supplychain Object working. For us it’s mandatory that these mechanisms are used because transparency matters and monetization will only thrive, if everything is set up accordingly. And as you may have noticed, we never tired of talking about it. Need help? Reach out! We are happy to help you.