Rubicon Project Comes Out Of The Closet: We're An Ad Exchange!

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Rubicon Project and Ad ExchangesIn an LA Times article last week by Dan Neil, a yield optimization company finally admitted it.

"We want to be the Visa, the Nasdaq of online advertising," said Frank Addante, Rubicon Project CEO.

Yeah baby! Just come out and say it, yield optimizers - you're ad exchanges! We won't disown you... not here on AdExchanger.com.

Though the focus of the piece entitled, "By 'optimizing' ads, can the Rubicon Project save this newspaper?" was Neil's own, personal journey to find a saving grace for the newspaper industry, he inadvertently got the Project to come clean. And, it makes sense. Yield optimization companies are building platforms to enable the efficient buying and selling of online media as the exchange model takes hold in digital advertising.

With platforms from Rubicon Project, Pubmatic, AdMeld, Yieldex and others, the exchange model has started with publishers who have been attracted to optimizer technology which can increase yield on publishers' billions of unsold impressions.

This is the first time I have seen any publication mention a yield optimizer's benefit for the advertiser as Neil concentrates on how Rubicon Project can match according to geo and content-based themes, almost making the LA-based company sound like a contextual platform, too. Is an advertiser API into the Rubicon Project platform far away?

'The problem of matching ads to page content is acute for general-interest newspapers: "The audience is constantly changing,' Addante says. If, for example, UNC advances in the NCAA tournament, more readers are likely to come from North Carolina. If there's a shuttle launch, more space nerds. Another Joaquin Phoenix freak-out? More celeb-watchers."

This idea of contextually matching ads to the page's content is something AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network (now APT, I guess) and others have been doing for a while. Adding contextual technology to Rubicon Project's platform would be an exciting development for advertisers and publishers. From the article though, it appears - for now - there isn't any true contextual technology overlay beyond Rubicon Project's robust optimization platform.

Another part of adding value to the exchange model will be in providing brand safety and Rubicon Project's establishes itself in the article as their customer Scripps chimes in and says RP is eliminating the "cheesy," unwanted ads.

Brand safety works both ways. Advertisers and publishers both want their brand associated with appropriate content. A brand safety "filter" will always be a part of the exchange model.

One note for ad exchange technology vendors: when talking to the media, don't use airplane water landings as examples for a good opportunity to advertise. Will make advertisers queasy.

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