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Under Centro’s Wing, SiteScout Touts Managed Services, Open Architecture

mattsaulsSince demand-side platform (DSP) SiteScout’s $40 million acquisition by Centro in last November, the company has evolved its business model from a pure self-serve platform to managed services.

Shawn Riegsecker, Centro’s CEO, hinted at the time of acquisition the company might acquire a data-management platform to extend its biddable media offerings. Matt Sauls, cofounder and VP of operations for SiteScout, spoke with AdExchanger about Centro’s work to help publishers, advertisers and developers action off of data more effectively through an “open and transparent marketplace.”

AdExchanger: How’s SiteScout since the acquisition?

MATT SAULS: Considering all of the trials and tribulations that any acquisition presents, it went in a really smooth manner and all of the leadership here remained and now we have just a much bigger force behind us. [We have] tons of support resources and a big sales organization who now has this product in their arsenal. Previously we were only doing self-serve, so now we’re able to do managed services, as well, which is a huge value for a lot of our clients in that they can potentially self-serve and have managed services, which allows them to scale and get more out of our products and services.


Undertone Names New CEO

coreyAd tech company Undertone has promoted its COO Corey Ferengul to CEO, effective June 1.

He replaces current CEO and founder Michael Cassidy, who will move into a chairman role.

Cassidy has been at the helm of Undertone since its founding 13 years ago. "It's the right time based on where the company is," said Eric Franchi, Undertone cofounder and chief evangelist. He added this was not indicative of a broader strategic business change at Undertone. "Corey brings a lot of interesting things to the table."

Those things include Ferengul's professional background in helping grow large organizations (most recently at Rovi Corp.) and evaluating and executing mergers and acquisitions. He also understands technology and product, which adds new dimensions to the CEO role, Franchi said.

Undertone has grown up since its inception during the early days of ad networks. The company has been profitable since day one, according to Franchi, who pinned the New York-headquartered company headcount now at 325.

(more…) Publisher Internet Brands Shakes Up Ad Formats

Jennifer ChauDigital publisher Internet Brands has seen a revenue uptick from a new ad unit implemented across some of its sites.

Since launching the so-called InFold format from ad tech provider Infolinks across its auto community and travel and leisure verticals, revenue in those verticals grew 2.5 times across Web and mobile, with CPMs increasing by more than 180%.

Based on the results, the publisher has plans to launch the unit across its health division later this year.

Internet Brands is a 16-year-old online publisher whose portfolio began with one website: It has evolved from its roots in auto research to provide online media, ecommerce and community sites in multiple verticals. Its publishing brands also include, and other vertical sites geared to auto, home, travel and health topics.

Jennifer Chau leads business development for the company’s auto vertical division, which has more than 23 million unique visitors across a family of more than 300 websites. (more…)

Original Content, Digital Video Take Center Stage At AOL NewFront

AOLAOL CEO Tim Armstrong addressed a crowd of close to 2,000 media buyers at its NewFront Tuesday night with an exuberant, “tonight is about connecting content with distribution.” It’s clear, with AOL, that much of that connection will happen through video.

Ran Harnevo, president of AOL Video, talked up digital video and its intent to provide “one platform for premium content.” He added: “TV and video will become one…[we will be the] platform for creating, curating, programming, distributing and monetizing content.”

Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL Brand Group, said “the power of video to engage an audience is what drew us to television in the first place.” She referenced AOL’s recent homepage re-do and introduction of always-on video programming from the company and its content partners.

Measurement was also a focal point. AOL and Nielsen took the stage together to announce a beta test of gross ratings points (GRP) metrics to measure audience reach for all of AOL’s 16 original series.

AOL positioned this as an extension of Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, designed to measure the online impact of televised content. (Yahoo Monday night touted measurement, too, at its NewFront when it announced an integration of comScore validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) metrics with Yahoo’s ad server for video, mobile and display).


Outbrain CEO: On (Rumored) IPO, Coming Wave Of Content Marketing Consolidation

YaronContent discovery company Outbrain has allegedly flirted with an IPO for well over a year now, with the most recent report claiming a target of around $100 million.

CEO Yaron Galai did not comment on a potential IPO, which is expected to materialize in the first half of the year. Instead, he focused his attention on the company’s historical and continued investments in building and acquiring for algorithmically fueled content recommendations.

The eight-year-old startup is among a string of Israeli companies that have considered public life on US-based exchanges. Others, like performance-based media network Matomy, looked to the London Stock Exchange before scrapping those plans due to what it said was technical issues.

Galai spoke with AdExchanger about Outbrain’s breadth as a publisher-centric content discovery network.

AdExchanger: What is Outbrain exactly?

YARON GALAI: We’re a content discovery platform. We help people discover what they should be reading or watching next. For many publishers, we power their entire content discovery experience. I like to think of this as powering the flipping of a page in a magazine – the equivalent of that on the Web.


As Google Locks Down, Will Advertisers Be Locked Out?

encryption googleGoogle’s search engine may eventually reward Web sites that use encryption and if it does, advertisers may find themselves cut off from useful data.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, hinted at the recent SMX West conference hosted by Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan that Google is indeed considering revising its search algorithms to elevate encrypted sites in its search results and that he would personally like to see it happen. According to a Wall Street Journal blog post, Cutts has also spoken privately about Google's interest in making such a change but that it likely won’t happen soon.

Still, advertisers are wary and see this development – should it happen – as an unnecessary burden. “I’m not sure I see a good reason for Google to favor encrypted sites,” said Rich Kahn, CEO of online advertising platform “Not all sites, and not all parts of sites, need to be encrypted. Running encryption uses up significantly more resources. If a busy site encrypts everything, it will need many more servers.” (more…)

YP, OpenX Join Forces In Programmatic Deal

David-LebowThe local search and advertising company YP has partnered with ad exchange OpenX, the companies said Tuesday.

Under the agreement, OpenX allows advertisers to bid programmatically on mobile and Web display inventory on YP’s ad network. YP claims to have more than 300 publishers on its Local Ad Network, including AOL, Yahoo and Pandora.

“With display, so much of it is programmatic now and OpenX helps us make it even easier for advertisers to optimize and buy (inventory),” said David Lebow, EVP and general manager of digital markets at YP.

YP was formed two years ago when AT&T sold its majority stake in AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive to Cerberus Capital Management, which the financial firm merged into YP Holdings LLC. YP Holdings is the parent company of YP LLC. YP's brands include the YP app, and the Real Yellow Pages directory.


Equinix Seeks To Speed RTB Bidding

SpeedyRTBConventional wisdom holds that real-time bidding (RTB) transactions should occur within 60-to- 100-milliseconds.

As more bids compete for impressions in the open RTB ad auction environment, lower lag time between various computing outputs means higher bid completion rates. Consequently, reducing latency is a large consideration in developing RTB algorithms. Some RTB players like AppNexus address the processing challenge head on, claiming stability and low latency across their respective data centers.

Those that partner to facilitate a speedier process have turned to an unexpected entrant to the RTB space: Equinix – which has its roots as a provider of data centers. Equinix is attracting vendors like pure-play video ad exchange BrightRoll and Rocket Fuel to its ecosystem. Together with Equinix, BrightRoll has  brought to market VideoRTB+, a digital video RTB offering exclusive to Equinix data centers.

Rocket Fuel has used VideoRTB+ to gauge ad response rates, and saw a 48% improvement in bid completion using the "private" VideoRTB+ instance rather than a public network connection.

“RTB is not like sending a signal at the speed of light,” said Robert Blackburn, an SVP for cloud and content at Equinix. “It’s a conversation where information flies back and forth and completing that within a hundred milliseconds is not an easy thing.”


Rate Card Aggregator Kantar Media SRDS Goes Programmatic

srdsKantar Media SRDS has added programmatic digital ad inventory to its media planning platform, which aggregates advertising rate card information for a wide range of supply sources. It's another indicator of how demand for "programmatic direct" continues to transform the traditional planning and buying process.

WPP Group-owned Kantar is partnering with supply-side platforms (SSP) PubMatic, Rubicon Project, OpenX and programmatic direct platforms iSocket, Adslot, BuySellAds, and Shiny Ads. These platforms will act as data feeds through which can publish guaranteed-direct and private marketplace inventory to over 1,000 U.S. agencies for its subscription-only service.

Rising demand for programmatic digital ads among brands is driving the initiative. Dina Srinivasan, managing director of emerging media at Kantar Media SRDS, said the company is responding to market changes in the past year. “You had publishers soften up to the idea of ‘We’re going to give SSPs and these other platforms access to the good inventory,” she said, which has splintered inventory data across several platforms.


Facebook's Atlas To Support 'Programmatic Direct' Buys, Beginning With Microsoft Inventory

atlas-flite-innovidFacebook's Atlas Advertiser Suite is laying the groundwork to support "programmatic direct" buys for Microsoft inventory.

Beginning in early 2015, Atlas will begin supporting programmatic purchases of Microsoft ads directly through the Atlas interface. Atlas customers will be able to query avails in Microsoft’s ad serving system and reserve guaranteed buys programmatically. Over time the program will include all Microsoft inventory sources available for direct buying, including MSN, Outlook, Skype, Xbox, and Windows inventory.

"We believe that this will reduce the manual process for advertisers, and better allow Atlas clients to purchase Microsoft inventory in a more efficient way, while also automating the campaign set-up and trafficking in Atlas," Atlas said in a blog post.