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Publishers see 20% Lift in 2011 display ad revenue from RTB, says Rubicon research

Rubicon ProjectNearly half of digital publishers sell inventory via RTB and two thirds through advertising networks; 40% of publishers report higher rate card prices versus 2009.

73% of publishers say online display advertising revenue has gone up in last year, according to global research by Econsultancy and the Rubicon Project. Nearly half of publishers (44%) now sell their online display advertising via real-time bidding (RTB), which itself is delivering twenty percent more revenue to publishers.  The research also found that two thirds (66%) of publishers sell inventory through online advertising networks. the Rubicon Project, the US-based advertising technology company, commissioned Econsultancy to survey of more than 1,000 internet advertising professionals, including nearly 500 online publishers, sales houses and rep firms, in August and September 2011. The survey follows the publication of a companion report which delivered analysis of similar questions to advertisers and agencies.

Increasing Revenue for Publishers

  • The vast majority of publishers surveyed say that their rate card prices have either gone up since last year (40%) or stayed the same (46%). Only 14% of respondents say pricing has decreased. Direct-sold premium inventory accounts for 55% of sales volume, delivering 67% of revenue for publishers (this number is somewhat lower in the US, where 50% of inventory is sold by direct sales team and accounts for 62% of revenue).
  • Publishers in the United States are more likely than their European counterparts to say that rate card prices have gone up in the last year (46% of US respondents compared to 36% in Europe).
A similar survey in 2009 found that only 53% of publishers had increased display advertising revenues over the previous year.  The latest research shows that supply-side platforms are playing a prominent role in the online advertising ecosystem where real-time bidding is becoming increasingly prevalent. Publishers cite the main benefits of working with supply-side platforms as the ability to open up inventory to RTB (58%), incremental revenue (54%) and extraction of greater value from inventory (48%).

Impact of RTB; Growth of Private Marketplaces

  • On average, real-time bidding has given publishers a 20% uplift on their remnant display ad revenue.
  • One in 10 publishers say they have established a private marketplace, and further 35% say they are planning to.
  • More than three quarters (78%) of publishers with private exchanges say that this has resulted in demonstrable revenue and a positive lift on yield.
Kara Weber, SVP of Marketing at the Rubicon Project says: “We predict that 2012 will mark the confluence of two key trends: a massive influx of new dollars coming online, accompanied and powered by RTB and the broader burst of innovation around the automation of digital ad buying and selling. And most importantly, publishers who leverage a single platform to control access to their inventory, and monetise that asset across all buying channels, can ensure that every impression is sold for the highest possible price.” Linus Gregoriadis, Econsultancy's Research Director, adds, "This research shows a positive commercial environment for publishers globally, with rate card prices holding steady or increasing for the vast majority of responding companies. Real-time bidding is creating opportunities for publishers who are having to adapt quickly to a fast-changing environment. Ad networks and exchanges continue to play an important role, while supply-side platforms are becoming increasingly influential in the marketplace." "The research also looks at how publishers are reacting to data privacy legislation, with half of respondents saying they are worried about changes relating to the use of cookies. Worryingly, a significant proportion of publishers (21%) have a poor understanding of data privacy law and its implications."

The Role of Online Advertising Networks

Econsultancy also surveyed online advertising networks around the world and discovered that 37% of online advertising networks are using RTB for both buying and selling inventory.  Around a third (31%) are using RTB just for buying, while 7% are using real-time bidding just for selling.  60% of the ad networks surveyed revealed they buy inventory from other ad networks and 60% buy from online advertising exchanges.
For publishers working with ad networks:
  • Three-quarters (74%) of US publishers sell through ad networks, compared to 61% in Europe.
  • A third (33%) of publishers say they work with more ad networks than a year ago, but 28% work with fewer ad networks.
  • On average, globally, 42% of display inventory goes to ad networks, increasing to 51% for the US but decreasing to 34% for Europe.
  • On average, globally, 35% of display advertising revenue comes from ad networks (42% in North America and 27% in Europe), up from 33% in 2009.
  • One third of pubs do not work with advertising nets and the challenges faced when working with them have increased.  One a third of all publishers consider channel conflict and data leakage as problems.
This is Econsultancy’s second Online Publishers Survey Report, produced in association with the Rubicon Project.  The study, supported by the IAB UK, IAB France, IAB Europe and AOP, follows a similar piece of research carried out in 2009 and is based on a survey of over 1,000 online advertising professionals carried out in August and September 2011.   This report is specifically focused on results from almost 500 publishers around the world. A copy of the full report will be available for download on Thursday, October 13th here. the Rubicon Project is an Associate Member of AOP.

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