What is Multiple Customer Management (MCM)? What To Expect From Google’s Replacement Of Scaled Partner Management (SPM)

Google announced they will be retiring their Scaled Partner Management (SPM) program in July 2021. Its replacement, called Multiple Customer Management (MCM), is already undergoing beta testing and will be released to eligible partners using Google Ad Manager 360 by the end of June this year.

While this upcoming change has caught some networks off guard, it’s broadly considered to be a positive one. The imminent transition to MCM mostly affects channel partners and agencies, however, there are several implications for publishers as well, especially ones that don’t have direct access to Google Ad Exchange.

To shed some light on what’s to come, we’re going to explain everything you need to know as a publisher about the new program.

What is SPM?

It’s no secret that Google Ad Exchange is the most prevalent source of ad revenue for publishers, but not everyone can simply open an account. There’s a multi-step application process including a minimum traffic requirement, which can be challenging to match. Despite there being no official threshold statement, it’s safe to say that publishers with less than 5 million pageviews per month have slim chances of getting on board. 

So far Scaled Partner Management has been the only way for smaller publishers to access Google Ad Exchange without meeting the minimum traffic criteria. Media owners could join a larger entity as a ‘child publisher’ and have their inventory monetized through an already established account. 

Furthermore, this allowed for companies to provide ad revenue optimization and management services to publishers who don’t have the resources to handle that on their own. The only problem is that until now child publishers had no visibility over how their inventory was managed and what charges were accumulated along the way. 

To put it simply, publishers would be using their parent entity’s AdX account and trusting them to be compensated appropriately for what they sold.

What is MCM?

Multiple Customer Management is Google’s new vision of how the parent-child relationships between publishers and agencies within their framework should work. It’s intended to provide the same benefits to all parties as SPM, but giving participants in the program the ability to see and control how their inventory is being sold by their partner.

With MCM the key difference is that child publishers can now choose what level of authorization to grant their parent entity. This is introduced via two types of delegation types (i.e levels of access): Manage Inventory and Manage Account.

MCM Delegation types

MCM’s delegation types basically define the nature of the partnership between the child and parent publisher within the program. Here are the key things to know about both types:

Manage Account

With ‘Manage Account’ the child publisher provides access to their own account and all related inventory to be monetized by the parent entity. This includes all websites registered in that account.

  • Your MCM partner gets access to your full account
  • You use your own Google Ad Manager tags
  • A revenue share is agreed upon and applied to all properties your account
  • You and your managing partner get paid via auto-payments based on the agreed upon revenue share, with each side being paid separately at the same time
  • You can have one MCM managing partner

Manage Inventory

With this delegation type, the child publisher does not grant access to their own account to any third party, but instead allocates a portion of their inventory to be monetized by a partner. 

  • MCM partners don’t get access to your account.
  • You can let an MCM partner monetize a specific portion of your inventory.
  • You are not able to see how delegated inventory is monetized.
  • You can have up to 15 MCM partners at once.
  • You use your MCM partner’s Google Ad Manager tags.
  • You will receive your payment from your parent publisher after they have deducted their fee.
Manage accountManage inventory
GAM accessFull access to child publisher accountAccess only to ‘delegated’ inventory
Allowed MCM partners1Up to 15
Payment distributionChild and parent publisher are paid by Google simultaneouslyParent publisher receives payment from Google and in turn issues payment to child publishers
Ad tagsYour own GAM tagsParent publisher’s GAM tags

Why is SPM being replaced?

As already mentioned, MCM is all about transparency and giving publishers more control over how their inventory is monetized. Until now website owners had to lend their inventory to a third party through the SPM program to access Google Ad Exchange with little clarity on how their partner of choice was trafficking their ads. While many publishers have complete trust in their managing partner and are happy with this model, others have been left wondering if they’re actually getting their money’s worth from the service. 

For publishers who are used to being more involved with the monetization of their website having no visibility of their setup can be quite problematic. Besides, most companies holding umbrella accounts would typically charge child publishers a fee or revenue share, which creates a competitive landscape. With participants being in the dark it can be difficult to judge which managing partner is the best choice for them and if they’re being compensated adequately. 

MCM doesn’t completely replace this model, but instead provides another option for webmasters that want a better grip on their business. The new program also allows publishers to access more demand sources, easily test different providers and better understand where their ad revenue comes from. 

What are the advantages of MCM?

Besides being more efficient and transparent than its predecessor, MCM brings a couple of other advantages as well. 

Publishers using SPM currently get access to Google AdX, but are missing important features such as Open Bidding. That’s no longer the case with MCM so child publishers will have the full range of tools Google Ad Manager 360 has to offer at their disposal. Additionally, MCM is also going to deliver support for programmatic direct and preferred deals. 

MCM vs SPM Feature comparison

FeatureSPMMCM
Google AdXYesYes
Open BiddingNoYes
Programmatic Direct SupportNoYes
Preferred Deals SupportNoYes

Is it difficult to switch from SPM to MCM?

No, quite the opposite. Publishers currently being part of SPM will be able to easily enter the new program without much being required from them. Google is sharing simple, clear instructions and we’ll be providing further clarification if needed, to ensure a seamless transition.

Is it safe to join my partner’s MCM program?

In terms of the security of your website and account, joining MCM is absolutely safe. If anything, it’s a significant step up from what SPM had to offer in the safety department, so there’s nothing to worry about. 

On the other hand, the upcoming change is most likely going to be somewhat of a challenge for some publisher networks, which could lead to a disruption in workflows. That said, companies moving over to MCM have been given plenty of time and support by Google to test and ensure any issues have been ironed out. 

If you’re still worried about what’s going to happen once MCM is here, we recommend that you get in touch with your managing partner and ask them to share their specific plans. 

MCM Transition timeline

Google’s plan is for all eligible partners to have access to the MCM module by the end of June 2021. There will be a one- to a two-month transition period, depending on the partner’s current situation, which means that SPM will be fully phased out by 30 September 2021 at the latest. 

You can check Google’s detailed timeline here.

Is PubGalaxy moving over to the MCM program?

Yes, we are. We have been preparing for the upcoming change behind the scenes for a while now and are confident that our publisher partners will enjoy a silky smooth transition. We also believe this is a positive and inevitable development, so we embrace the launch of Multiple Customer Management with open arms.

What do you do as a child publisher if your partner is moving to MCM?

For publishers currently working with us – don’t worry, there’s nothing that you need to do as of yet. Once the time comes your Account Manager will be in touch with you and provide clear instructions with next steps. 

To get an idea of what the transition process will look like, you can check out Google’s Get started for child publishers guide.