Meet Colossus, The Supply-Side Platform Powering Diverse Publishers

colossus supply side platform

Media buyers often have a tough time finding diverse or minority-owned media companies on major supply-side platforms (SSPs), because those publishers often lack the resources or scale to set up programmatic sales.

So diverse or minority-owned publishers get left out of the programmatic opportunity.

Programmatic services firm Huddled Masses set out to fix that problem in 2018 when it launched Colossus, an SSP focused on aggregating supply from diverse and minority-owned publishers alongside general market inventory. The goal was to make these publishers and their audiences more accessible to advertisers at scale.

“The opportunity to buy at scale is usually the first barrier,” said Mark Walker, managing partner at Huddled Masses. “We try to remove that by giving publishers some scale, so brands can reach a diverse audience and spend with a minority owned-organization.”

Thirty-five percent of the 25 billion impressions sold through Colossus monthly originate from minority-owned or diverse media companies, making it the largest multicultural media marketplace in the industry. Colossus represents inventory from publishers including Blavity, The Root, Black Girl Digital, Black Enterprise and Revry.tv. It also powers Havas’ social equity PMP.

Huddled Masses identifies certified diverse- or minority-owned publishers to bring onto Colossus. It also leans on its employees – half of whom come from diverse backgrounds – to identify media companies that could be a fit. Publishers are verified against third-party traffic, fraud and audience data before being onboarded.

Many diverse or minority-owned publishers are small or new to programmatic, so onboarding can be a heavy lift, Walker said. “We try to figure out, what does their marketing stack look like and how do we best integrate with it?”

In aggregating all of this supply, Huddled Masses’ buy-side clients can reach Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ and other diverse audiences in a relevant context, while also supporting diverse and minority-owned publishers. Buyers can access display, video in-app and CTV inventory on Colossus via private marketplaces or through the open exchange.

“Depending on what buyers are looking for, we curate specific audiences and then go out and try to augment that,” Walker said.

Walker sees Colossus’ real opportunity as a way to educate brands and buyers on how to talk to multicultural audiences. Most brands bucket multicultural into a single group without fully understanding how these audiences consume media.

“It’s definitely an education on how diverse audiences operate,” he said. “Multicultural audiences have learned to live in two worlds [when consuming media], so you want brands to live in both of those.”

Diverse audiences have trillions of dollars’ worth of buying power in the United States, according to Nielsen, and many major brands already depend on these groups as core consumers. Multicultural audiences – especially Gen Z – have affinity toward brands that act authentically and support their communities.

“Buying with properties that are run, owned or primarily diverse means something to these communities,” Walker said.

Huddled Masses has seen an uptick in interest from brands around Colossus since national protests erupted in June over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers. The company, which is minority-owned as well, aims to make it as easy as possible to access the SSP through major DSPs, and is already integrated with The Trade Desk, MediaMath and Google DV 360.

“The more we streamline the ability to select Colossus as your SSP, the more brands get on board working with us,” Walker said.