How to Choose an Ad Manager MCM Partner

February 2022

#ad manager


#online ads


The changes Google has been making to how publishers access Ad Exchange mean that many publishers have found themselves looking for new MCM partners this year. Whilst larger publishers are able to access Ad Exchange through their own Ad Manager 360 Account, most do so through MCM Partners. The MCM (Multi-Client Management) program gives approved third parties the means to offer Ad Exchange access to their clients, opening up Google’s premium monetization service to more publishers without the cost of high entry requirements of direct account access.

Aren’t all MCM Partners reselling the same thing?

MCM partners are still sometimes referred to as “AdX resellers”, but it is a misleading term. It is an even less relevant term under recent changes to the Ad Exchange / Ad Manager ecosystem.

Under the old Ad Exchange infrastructure (called SPM, or Scaled Partner Management) there was a route for partners to provide access to Ad Exchange in a largely hands-off, reseller-like, manner. That system is being retired by Google this year and the new MCM framework is far more involved. For most publishers, their inventory will be running within their partner’s Ad manager account and therefore far more closely managed than it would have been under SPM. Partners are now far more “managers” than they are “resellers”.

In addition, few partners are just offering the basic product. MCM encourages each partner to bring their own value, so no two offerings are likely to be exactly the same.

Partner vs Certified Partner

One shortcut to finding a better partner is to look at Google’s own list of Google Certified Publishing partners. Certified Publishing partners are continually assessed on quality, knowledge, and results to ensure they are meeting the rigorous standards of the program. Whilst all MCM partners have to meet certain criteria, the selection process for Certified Partners is far more strict and those who fail to maintain the standards are removed from the program.
Opting for a Certified Partner (one that appears on Google’s Certified Partner website) is your assurance of those standards.

Commercial Terms

The fees and contractual terms of any partnership are always going to play a big part in your decision, so establishing those early is important. Things to look out for:

  • Revenue Share: Most partners take a share of the revenue as their fee. The lowest revenue share isn’t always the best (a strong performing partner taking 20% can still earn you significantly more than a poor partner at 10%), but a fair and transparent share is important. Don’t just check the headline rate, but what revenue you will pay a share on and how any costs are handled.
  • Payment Terms: Most partners pay their publishers once per month, but the delay between earnings and payment can vary. Most pay on “net 60” or better terms, meaning that you receive funds within 60 days of the end of the month they were earned in.
  • Chargeable Extras: In most cases, the revenue share will cover all fees levied, you will literally earn the agreed share of all revenue generated. Some partners apply additional fees, such as ad serving or platform fees to that revenue before the share is calculated, which can make the comparison more difficult, especially if this is not done in a transparent way.
  • Minimum terms, Lock-Ins, and Cancellation Periods: Your commitment to the partnership can vary greatly from one partner to another. Check if there is a minimum term and how cancellations are handled after that time.

The Offering

Each partner has their blend of technology and services that they wrap around the core MCM product. Understanding what is available and included helps you better compare offerings and get the most from the partner you choose to work with. Common elements include:

  • Header Bidding / Open Bidding: What auction methods will be run and which partners can you expect to see bidding in each auction. This can have a huge impact on performance.
  • Consent Management: Will the partner be handling cookie and personalization consent for you?
  • Reporting: Is there a reporting dashboard? How quickly is it updated and what information does it give you. Ask for screenshots or a hands-on demo.
  • Ad Formats: Are all common formats supported? Are any special formats provided?
  • Support: Will you have a dedicated account manager or is it pooled support? What support hours do they operate (and in what timezone?). How do you contact support when it is urgent and what turnaround time can you expect?
  • Extras: What else is in their offering? Identity solutions? Ad Blocker mitigation? Malware screening?

Doing Your Due Diligence

The sales team will of course give you convincing answers to all of the above questions before you add a partner’s tags to your site, so it is important to do your own due diligence:

  • Who else do they work with? Don’t just look for logos on their website, check their sellers.json file to see for yourself. Are they working with other sites like yours? Are they sites whose company you would like to be in? Is there anyone you can reach out to for feedback?
  • Check other customers’ Websites: Do the ads load quickly? Are they appropriate for the inventory?
  • Are they on the GCPP website? Anyone can add the badge to an email or claim to be certified, but does Google confirm that?
  • Reviews and Feedback: Are there genuine reviews for them online? What are people saying about them on forums, Twitter and Reddit? Try searches like “{name} experiences”, “{name} reviews” and “{name} payments.

Making Your Choice

Even taking all the points above into account, your final choice will often come down to gut feeling and your pre-sales experience. Asking lots of questions can give you a good insight into the partner’s approach and the general level of knowledge and caring of their team. The points above will help you cover the basics, but by working through them you will also get a good insight into whether a chosen provider is the right partner for you.

Ready to Discuss?

Choosing a partner can be difficult though. Working with an MCM partner means trusting them with both your revenue and your reputation. It is important to not only pick a good partner but one that is a good fit for your needs. Let’s discuss your goals today!

How to Choose an Ad Manager MCM Partner

Content Writer

Written by

Content Writer