Rubicon’s Demand Manager, header bidding technology built on the open-source Prebid code, still isn’t revenue positive, but Barrett said the company “remains confident it will be a growth driver starting in 2020.”
One of the reasons Rubicon is bullish on its wrapper is that it doesn’t face crowded competition, Barrett said. The competition is publishers using the open-source Prebid software on their sites.
While Prebid is free, there is a fee for Demand Manager – which is sold as either a percent of media or on a consistent SaaS rate. But Barrett said most customers opt to pay the media margin. Rubicon’s pitch is that the open-source tech actually costs many publishers, in terms of wasted time, bloated code on their sites and additional security or analytics features that they might otherwise have to pay for.
“Can we build a product with enough benefits that they’d use Demand Manager instead of using Prebid themselves?” asked Barrett. That’s the driving question for Rubicon, and it could be lucrative if the company can seize meaningful share of publishers with in-house Prebid tech.
“(Another) benefit is that we don’t have to extol the benefits of Prebid,” he said. “They’ve already adopted that.”
The SPO opportunity
Supply-path optimization (SPO) and vendor consolidation have been hot-button topics for advertisers and publishers this year.
Generally, those trends work against ad tech intermediaries. But Barrett said consolidation in the supply chain has been a tailwind for Rubicon, because it’s able to stand out as a scaled, independent option that’s built on Prebid. By contrast, Index Exchange’s header bidding solution uses proprietary code instead of the open-source foundation.
In the past year, Havas Media has trimmed its vendor roster from 40 to about eight. But it’s done so with Rubicon as a strategic partner.
Rubicon’s publisher deals help it establish strong partnerships with agencies, Barrett said, because advertisers want more direct and PMP buys and the data transparency that comes with direct relationships.
“And, let’s face it, advertisers don’t want to give more of their money to Google,” he said. “We’re a great alternative.”