- What has been the impact of Right Media Exchange?
- In the future, how important is having at least two, liquid, large scale, ad exchanges in the display ad ecosystem? And why.
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[Regarding the impact,] Right Media provides an environment where buyer defined micro-segments can be purchased at scale.The impact is that a buyer can eliminate waste by only purchasing the ad characteristics that they find appealing at a price that works for them.
If transparency can be brought to the marketplace then a competitive market will determine the true value of every single impression. This will ultimately increase performance efficiency for the buyer, sales yield for the seller and better content for the end consumer.
[Regarding the importance of at least two, liquid, large scale, ad exchanges], it is important to have multiple exchanges for the pure purpose of supporting competitive dynamics.
Every chance I get I encourage exchanges to be open and flexible. The vast majority of demand and supply will naturally gravitate to the platforms that embrace an open approach. Without a few large exchanges and a handful of second tier exchanges in existence then the threat of competitive replacement is reduced and therefore the threat of competitive collusion is increased.
I think it is important to have at least two major exchanges in the marketplace, mainly to ensure that there is responsiveness to what customers want. I'll use the transparency issue as an example, which you and I chatted about previously, when I said I think it's the single issue that is going to determine whether exchange buying takes off or not.
With just one dominant exchange in the market I can imagine hearing "we can't provide transparency because our publishers don't allow us to." On the other hand, with competition in the exchange marketplace, and with the understanding that buyers want transparency, I think we'll see the exchanges try to differentiate around the quality and transparency of their inventory. I actually think that once all the exchanges are offering real-time bidding and are at parity in terms of technology that we'll see that the ability to buy specific, named media inventory will be the primary way that the exchanges differentiate themselves. But only if there are multiple exchanges to push the industry in that direction.
Right Media was the first and is still the biggest ad exchange in the world, in all the excitement over new platforms and companies, that can't be underestimated. The scale of technology that sits behind an exchange platform is vast and to date (it's still very early days with Adx) they are the only people who have truly achieved that on a global basis. For us, as platform trading experts, they've created a whole industry which is set to revolutionise digital media buying so in some respects they have been very successful. However, as the first, you are always going to get some things wrong, and that's where the competition are improving things. A single billing point, RTB capabilities and more of a focus on a brand safe environment have been three areas where competitors of Right Media are getting things right and they must take notice of these things as they are game changing for people on the demand side.
Competition, as in any market is going to be key to improvement of product. It feels like people are talking about Right Media as a defunct piece of technology whereas the reality is that it is still the biggest exchange platform in the world and something we use very successfully for our advertisers. Many successful businesses are built and still thrive on the platform, however they need to innovate, keep up product developments and not become a lumbering legacy player as the competition gets stronger.
From the buy-side perspective, the Right Media Exchange has been transformational in that it was the first fully scaled technology solution for a market-driven buying and selling process for display media. It was Right Media, and more specifically Yahoo's willingness to embrace Right Media, that propelled the ad exchange landscape from fringe curiosity to legitimate business opportunity. So in that respect they were the catalyst that fueled the frenetic innovation and growth we've seen in the ad exchange ecosystem over the last several years. The space would probably exist without Right Media, but it would be much, much less interesting today.
It's vitally important to have two or more exchanges with both scale and resources behind them. We've seen firsthand in Search, for example, what happens when one player gains de facto ownership of the landscape. Innovation is stifled, control shifts away from buyers, and the ecosystem overall is less dynamic and efficient. No matter how many exchanges are left after the inevitable consolidation and shakeout, that number needs to be greater than one.
Innovation aside, having a choice of which exchange to work with is also an important ingredient in getting publishers to buy in to opportunity. To the extent exchanges coalesce around the major digital media players (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) independent publishers today have a choice as to which partner they want to patronize. If an exchange owned by one of these media players becomes the de facto standard, publishers may be reluctant to play in this space if their interests conflict with that of the exchange owner. Choice mitigates this barrier and, at present, fuels growth of the category.
The impact of Yahoo!'s Right Media Exchange has been both structural/strategic and tactical to the industry. RMX was really the first exchange at scale and continues to be a dominant advertising exchange for many publishers and marketers. RMX taught the industry as a whole the strengths and weaknesses of the exchange space and many businesses on both sides of the advertising fence have built sustainable businesses on an exchange based model.
The early battles that RMX fought to build the industry has raised the tides for all ships involved. Google Advertising Exchange, Adnexus, Pubmatic, Rubicon Project, Admeld, MediaMath, Invite Media, Dataxu, Legolas, BlueKai, Exelate, are just a few examples of companies who have recognized the opportunity around exchanges and have built businesses because of the early work that RMX did educating the marketplace.
Many of RMX's former talent are continuing to play within the exchange world so that's a nod to the promise of what they build just a few years back.
[Regarding the importance of having at least two, large ad exchanges], competition is healthy and pushes the boundaries of innovation. If we look at the search landscape, Google may dominate the search landscape (north of 66% marketshare) but Yahoo! And Bing are still around and are technically 'at scale.' From my side of the fence, multiple exchanges create inefficiencies in pricing and the educated folks who understand how to take advantage of the inefficiencies will reap the benefits... So we're all for multiple exchanges.