Over the past few months, French real-time bidding (RTB) services provider AlephD has expanded work with AppNexus with particular focus on French publishers.
Maxime Agostini, AlephD's CEO, said that despite greater adoption of programmatic methods by advertisers there aren’t many services aimed at the sell side. Although AlephD is already integrated with AppNexus, Agostini said the next step is a broader roll-out of the combined technologies.
AlephD, which recently secured $2 million in its first-round funding, hopes AppNexus will help solidify its position in France and help build out its sell-side focus internationally. In particular, Agostini said, AlephD seeks to enter the US market.
To AlephD, making the leap from France to the US makes sense, considering how relatively nascent the market for publishers' dollars is on both sides of the Atlantic. Additionally, the idea of an SSP is still in flux, as companies like PubMatic look to build out a consulting business as they pursue a wider enterprise model, while Rubicon Project is increasingly viewed as a marketplace operator.
Finally, with other companies like iSocket and AdSlot aiming to provide more automation for publishers' reserved inventory, solutions that enhance the performance of RTB placements are a niche that needs filling.
Agostini started AlephD about two years ago, after he left France's main independent ad-tech company, Criteo. Although AlephD's business primarily comes from the sell side, the company doesn't plan to create a sell-side platform (SSP).
"We focus on building the right technology to make their selling strategies more efficient," Agostini said. "The plan is to bring those solutions to as many platforms and publishers as possible, creating a new SSP would make this harder."
Agostini wants to avoid the SSP label because he wants AlephD to be a partner to the demand side as well. But rather than serve as a general marketplace where both buyers and publishers meet, it would use the tools provided by companies like AppNexus to do that heavy lifting.
For AppNexus, AlephD helps give it a clear line to French publishers as it looks to expand its global presence, particularly in Europe.
"Two years ago, we became more committed to growing AppNexus internationally, with Europe being the natural first stop," said AppNexus CMO Tom Butta. "France is an interesting market. It's a vibrantly entrepreneurial place and the ecosystem for digital is thriving, with companies like Criteo and the publishers are doing a lot of advanced work. The richer data AlephD's is a huge value-add to our clients, especially in the market that they serve, particularly on the publisher side."
While most of the focus in the European programmatic market over the last few years have been on the UK and Germany, a November report from WPP's 24/7 Media VP of marketing Estelle Reale noted that France has started to catch up in the last year.
The WPP unit launched its programmatic marketplace earlier this year. Things appeared to ramp up over the summer, 24/7 Media saw revenues from RTB on our 24/7 Connect marketplace quadruple, though it didn't release any specifics. Publishers in France appeared to notice 24/7's marketplace in the fall, as the agency claimed that available RTB inventory more than doubled over September and October and it now works with 60 sites that reaches just over half of France's total online population.
As AlephD tries to capture that same market, the company plans to use its funding to hire more marketing and engineering staffers – the company has roughly a dozen employees at the moment.