Taking Orders: Rubicon Project Joins The Direct Deals Pack

rubicon-directRubicon Project is the latest ad tech company to support automation of direct deals. Its first product in this area, called 49bc, will focus on mobile inventory only. Later this year it expects to add support for desktop and video to the toolset, which is still in private beta.

Rubicon is one of about 10 platform companies channeling R&D into the so-called “orders” business. Among its competition in this area are AppNexus, Mediaocean, Google, PubMatic, OpenX, iSocket, and ShinyAds.

Rubicon previously supported guaranteed ad deals through its Connect private exchange product, which first rolled out in 2012. The company says 49bc is an evolution of Connect in that Rubicon will for the first time support sellers’ direct negotiations with agencies from the media discovery phase through execution.

Rubicon breaks the whole ad marketplace into three basic transaction types:  static bidding of the sort pioneered by Right Media and other early exchanges; real-time bidding (RTB) against individual user impressions; and orders. Orders is a very large bucket that includes TV, radio, print, out of home and potentially any other paid media transaction.

While 49bc’s exclusive mobile focus seems a long way from capturing that opportunity, Rubicon had to start somewhere.

Direct deal automation, in the words of Rubicon’s Head of Buyer Cloud Josh Wexler, “leverages the RTB protocol to drive efficiencies and effectiveness between buyers and sellers.”

Wexler continued: “The initial phase of automation was driven by the open auction environment of programmatic. We like to think we’ve pioneered both open auctions and private exchanges. The next phase is to address guaranteed orders.”

Many of the direct deals projects from Rubicon and its competitors have something in common: They appear to be developed in tandem with RTB platforms, not necessarily as an extension of them.

Rubicon CEO Frank Addante, described this phenomenon to AdExchanger in a recent interview:

“One thing that’s important to the orders market is that it requires transparency,” Addante said. “It’s a whole different category that doesn’t require static bidding or real-time bidding. When you talk about direct, reserve and a whole bunch of other jargon that I don’t like to use, that’s very different from a direct deal. It doesn’t require bidding at all. It just needs to be executed by the platform.”

The product’s name, 49bc, is an extension of Rubicon Project’s own origin story.   The company was named for Julius Caesar’s crossing of the so-named river, which reshaped the balance of power in Europe and the Middle East; 49 BC is the year it is thought to have taken place.

Story has been updated with details on Rubicon’s Connect private exchange product.

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