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Rubicon CEO On Adding “Guaranteed” To Automation

rubicon-frankIt’s been a busy week for Rubicon Project.

It acquired programmatic direct players iSocket and Shiny Ads on Monday, adding guaranteed capabilities to its platform. It partnered with Apple’s iAd, ramping up its mobile supply. And last Friday, it hired Adam Chandler as SVP of revenue as the company builds out its buy side.

Rubicon’s CEO, Frank Addante, talked to AdExchanger about the iSocket and Shiny Ads acquisitions, and what’s ahead for Rubicon and the industry at large. The interview was conducted before news broke of Rubicon’s iAd relationship.

AdExchanger: Why make this deal, and why make it now?

FRANK ADDANTE: The simple answer is that the market is ready for direct orders, and automation has become top-of-mind for the largest buyers and sellers in the world.

We already have the integration in place with the sellers and the buyers. Because we’ve got such massive scale, we’re able to apply this capability as another set of features to our platform rather than treating it as a new business.

Were Shiny Ads & iSocket ahead of the market?

It’s better to be early than late, for sure. When we started Rubicon Project in 2007, I wouldn’t say the market was ready for automation; it was something we pioneered, and we spent a lot of time educating the market. They were doing the same thing. Now we get that benefit. 

Why structure the deal the way you did, acquiring both companies at the same time? 

We wanted to double down and put us in a position to own this market, so we decided to do both. We believe this is going to be a $60 billion direct-order automation market.

We looked at both companies, and they both have great teams and great products, and have specialized in different areas. Both of them have great integrations into the ad servers. Shiny Ads is really focused on the self-service interface.

Where was Rubicon in the market pre-acquisition? Post-acquisition?

We’ve been in market with our direct-orders product for years. It’s another area of the market we pioneered. It didn’t exist before we created it.

We’ve already made great traction, and now Shiny Ads and iSocket give us the rest of the capabilities, particularly around guaranteed automation. We were already ahead of the market, and now we’re squarely ahead of it. (more…)

Firefox Chooses Yahoo For Search; WaPo Kindle Tech

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Yahoo Search On Fire(fox)

Late on Wednesday, Firefox struck a deal to make Yahoo its exclusive and default search engine, after a 10-year-long relationship with Google. In a statement, Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer called the deal “the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years,” adding that it “helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications, and digital content.” A notable condition of the deal was that Yahoo agreed to Mozilla’s “do not track” feature, that lets users opt out of cookie tracking. But what’s Yahoo scheming to do will all that search data? The NYT has more.


Yahoo Still Shopping; Nielsen Measures Streaming


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Yahoo’s Appetite

Marissa Mayer is still shopping for ad tech in the wake of Yahoo’s BrightRoll and Flurry deals, and she’s cast an acquisitive eye on a few demand-side players, including MediaMath and Turn, writes Re/code's Kara Swisher. Her piece also mentions RadiumOne, whose founder Gurbaksh Chahal sold Blue Lithium to Yahoo for $300 million in 2007. (Chahal was removed as RadiumOne's CEO earlier this year.) Separately, Swisher cites the possibility of a much larger deal to buy Research In Motion. Why? Aside from giving Yahoo a mobile device to play with, a RIM deal could alleviate the company’s tax burden resulting from its Alibaba gains.


Time Inc. Picks Outbrain; Merkle Buys 500friends

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Time Inc. Recommends

Time Inc. has picked Outbrain to be the exclusive content discovery platform for its owned and operated sites. The multiyear deal is expected to earn the publisher an estimated $100 million. Read the press release. Time Inc. will also adopt Outbrain’s premium publisher network to drive audiences to its digital properties. Content recommendation can get a bad rap for spreading click-bait around the web, but Outbrain CRO Tom Foran says the company has purged some offenders from its customer base. "Low quality is in the eye of the beholder,” Foran told Ad Age.


YouTube Challenger; Programmatic Creative

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Poaching YouTube’s Users

Ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has been working on a platform to challenge YouTube’s online video dominance. The video streaming service, dubbed Vessel, is staffed by a fleet of ex-Hulu, Netflix and Amazon leaders, and Ad Age reports that it could debut as early as this month. Vessel will offer both free and subscription-based access, with both versions slated to serve ads and work across apps, desktop and mobile sites. Naturally, there are possible ties to connected-TV services like Apple TV, Roku and Xbox. Purportedly, Vessel’s secret sauce will be signing YouTube creators to yearlong contracts that require creators to upload new content to Vessel and wait 72 hours before posting elsewhere.


Facebook Reducing Newsfeed Ads; Publishers Struggle With Innovation

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FB: Money Talks, ‘Likes’ Walk

On Friday, Facebook revealed plans to remaster news feed content with controls that edge out promoted posts from brands. In a blog post, Facebook explained that it’s not ads that irk users. According to its research, it’s an oversaturation of posts from pages users have “liked.” So, beginning in January, unpaid posts will further dwindle from the news feed. “It’s a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad,” said Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst for the Altimeter Group. Though Facebook insists this will not decrease the number of ads users experience, Mindshare NA Chief Strategy Officer Jordan Bitterman points out, “Facebook is basically saying that their algorithm will be the arbiter of what’s promotion and what’s not promotion.” The New York Times has more.


Rubicon Project Taps Adam Chandler For Buyer Cloud

Adam ChandlerRubicon Project wants more customers on its Buyer Cloud and has hired ad sales vet Adam Chandler as SVP of revenue to bring brands to the platform. He started Monday.

“There’s a lot of education needed on Madison Avenue and with brand marketers directly to explain what automation means,” Chandler said. “I see a big hole for us to come in and simplify that process.”

In his last role at Millennial Media, as head of global programmatic revenue, he signed on 300 buyers in a year to the MMX exchange. Chandler came to Millennial when it acquired JumpTap, the mobile startup where he worked.

He also spent eight years at Yahoo.

The Buyer Cloud, Chandler said, has its technology and features built out. “It’s more about adoption,” he said. And that means educating more buyers about programmatic.

Though Rubicon’s entry point into programmatic was as an SSP, it’s expanded to the buy side. In this respect, Rubicon operates as an exchange, allowing other DSPs and ad networks to plug in.

Rubicon is an exchange, but not a DSP – rather, DSPs and ad networks are among the customers who plug into Rubicon. Chandler’s focus will be adding more brands and agencies to that buyer set, which already has wide adoption among the DSP and ad network crowd.

Those brands, agencies and trading desks will have access to a Buyer Cloud that includes orders, private marketplaces, automatic guaranteed and open auctions. “It’s a collection of apps and tools to address the needs of the buyers. It’s the bridge to a supply,” Chandler said. (more…)

Benefitting From The Outage; eBay's Programmatic Native

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Blackout Benefits

Wednesday’s 90-minute global outage of DoubleClick for Advertisers was a glaring reminder of Google’s ad server dominance, and sent publishers scrambling to tally their make-goods. But some publishers benefited from Google’s fumble, Ad Age reports. Data from Casale Media, an ad exchange, suggests sites not reliant on DoubleClick made 26% more during the blackout, as dollars flowed through other programmatic exchanges to their pages. “Some publishers literally doubled,” said Andrew Casale, the exchange’s VP for strategy. More.


Why Yahoo Bought BrightRoll: A Big Video Opportunity And (New) Relevance

BurkeSacerdotiYahoo’s ad stack had been under a microscope, as CEO Marissa Mayer sought ways to appease shareholders and prove she had reached “parity” at last with competing ad tech stacks.

On Tuesday, Yahoo’s announcement that it would acquire video demand-side platform (DSP) BrightRoll for $640 million enhanced this portfolio.

“We now have scale with Flurry and their mobile assets, BrightRoll’s video assets and Yahoo Gemini’s technology and native marketplace,” Yahoo’s SVP of advertising technology Scott Burke told AdExchanger.

Burke stopped short of calling the tech stack a platform, though he said one imperative for Yahoo's ads division and new ad chief Lisa Utzschneider is helping marketers determine the efficacy of cross-channel spend and to unlock more value with less tools.

“Advertisers and agencies can buy things like [search, display, video, mobile social] from other players, but nobody else can determine when you run a campaign on Tumblr, what is the impact on search behavior?” he said.

With BrightRoll, Yahoo gets a video network that has a DSP, an SSP and an exchange. BrightRoll's $1o0 million in net revenue this year, will be accretive to Yahoo once the deal closes.

More than one-third of BrightRoll's supply is mobile inventory, and the company has inked a number of third-party integrations with eXelate, Verizon's Precision Market Insights and Oracle's BlueKai. BrightRoll also had a preexisting integration to Google's AdX, for automated bidding on YouTube inventory.


High Tech Shopping; DoubleClick Goes Down

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Boutique Tech

High-end fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is making brick-and-mortar look more like the Internet with new stores in New York and San Francisco this month. The two locations will be outfitted with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tech, powered by eBay, that tracks the items customers try on or interact with. RFID technology can provide store operators with real-time data on inventory, and will also be installed in fitting rooms to facilitate customer support. “There are critical moments where [consumers] are going to buy something, or they are going to leave,” said Healey Cypher, head of retail innovation at eBay. “We’re applying that exact same logic to the physical world.” The WSJ has more.