Rubicon Project Looks To Boost Video Supply With ‘InLine’ Ad Format

RubiViroolRubicon Project hopes a partnership with video ad platform Virool, unveiled Wednesday, will help shore up more video supply.

Rubicon will exclusively sell Virool’s new InLine format through all business lines, including auction-based and guaranteed and non-guaranteed orders.

It’s difficult for third-party sellers and marketplaces like Rubicon to access more video inventory, since most premium publishers prefer to sell it directly to control pricing and the contextual experience.

This factor – as well as the question around quality in the exchanges – is why Rubicon has been slow to ramp up premium video supply access, said CEO Frank Addante during an earnings call.

“Our number one challenge in our video marketplace is scarcity,” said Kaylie Smith, head of Rubicon’s Seller Cloud. Because most top 500 sellers go direct in an upfront environment, inventory is at times bought in advance over a period of a few quarters, said Smith.

Virool’s InLine units are user-initiated formats for desktop and mobile iOS. They are not pre-, post-, or mid-roll units but are designed to play – like Teads’ InRead formats used by Slate and Forbes – when the unit is in-view and are only audible when the consumer hovers over the unit. 

Virool prices the format on cost per view, meaning the player must be at least 50% in-view for a minimum of three seconds, in its own sales efforts with publishers like Yahoo Sports and Prometheus Global Media.

Although its relationship with Rubicon is not intended to replace its own direct publisher deals, Virool’s director of publisher development, Sonja Kristiansen, said that Rubicon has more scale, which will help increase sell-in for the format.

“One of the things I see advertisers and publishers equally embracing and agreeing on, is [the need] for a video unit that incorporates viewability and mobile,” she said. “We’re seeing advertisers get as equally excited on our demand side, and those two parties can have really divergent goals.”

Other large exchanges and programmatic marketplaces are also striking deals to beef up mobile video supply. Index Exchange, for instance, partnered with video platform Unruly to tap its supply of mobile in-feed formats, and PubMatic created a private marketplace with Coull for in-stream video overlays.

Rubicon will first price InLine formats on a CPM basis, which a majority of publishers are accustomed to with standard pre-roll, “but if we find pricing models shift, we can absolutely price more on CPV or another alternative,” Smith said.

Viewability is one of the catalysts underpinning this push to engagement-based pricing.

“It’s clear there are still some issues with measurement and standardization,” Smith said. “We had expected there would be more change by now, since it’s 2015, but realistically it may [take until the end of the year or early next] before we have a full understanding of what the buyer wants to use and that we’re all on the same page with metrics.”

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