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Rubicon Project's International VP Jay Stevens interviewed

Jay Stevens, GM & VP International, Rubicon Project

Video Produced by Ed Pettit

Jay Stevens is VP & GM, International at the Rubicon Project, an ad technology firm which provides real-time yield optimisation for publishers. Prior to joining Rubicon, Jay served as the SVP of Audience at MySpace. He was the social network’s first hire outside of the US and oversaw operations for 12 of their European territories during the first two years of his tenure with the company.

We asked Jay about the impact of real time bidding on publishers' businesses, the effect of ad networks on the display market and how to protect the direct sell while new maximising advertising opportunities.

How do you see the real time bidding environment developing for publishers in the next few months?

Real-time bidding is still very nascent, but is building steam quickly as agencies and their trading desks are seeing increased efficiencies in managing their performance buys.

Budget allocated to demand-side platforms (DSPs) that were experimental a quarter ago, is now reaching well into six figures and taking a substantial share of media plans. And now that certain advertisers are seeing success, more accounts will no doubt dedicate larger slices of their budgets to this form of trading.

And in the next year or so?

As agencies realise these efficiency gains with their performance buys, it’s only logical that this will spill over to brand budgets, especially as supply side platforms create private ad slots, enabling publishers to more efficiently tap budgets they would not have previously while maintaining their CPMs.

The proliferation of ad networks has been held responsible in some quarters for a lowering of CPMs – is there a growing argument for premium publishers to cut off all the networks, or build their own?

Not at all, ad networks serve an important role in the digital ecosystem and will continue to do so. And while publishers believe that ad networks are responsible for CPM erosion, the reality is that there remains a fundamental imbalance of oversupply lagging behind demand.

No matter how good and how big a publisher’s sales team is, they will never be able to answer every brief or tap every advertiser, nor have they had the technology to easily service performance buyers.

What practical advice would you give to publishers (from your own experience of running a Sales team) on protecting the direct sell while maximising opportunities around RTB?

Real time bidding is simply another source of demand that’s making its way into the digital landscape. It represents both an opportunity for higher sell through rates and increased yield, but also a threat from a data leakage and rate cannibalisation perspective. The ability to set appropriate floor pricing is key, as well as ensuring that DSPs are contractually bound to adhering to ‘catch and release’ data policies.

When a publisher is selecting a yield optimisation partner, they should choose a solution with technology that enforces all of the publisher’s ad quality and site security restrictions and ensures their sales channels remain strong. Ultimately publishers should be working with a yield optimisation partner that will protect them from arbitrage and price erosion.

There’s been a lot of talk from agency community about retargeting individual users via real time bidding. How will this impact publishers, and do they stand to lose or gain?

They stand to gain, because advertisers are willing to pay a premium for these users. In fact, a recent study from comScore and ValueClick found that retargeting generated the highest lift among six different placement strategies, at more than 1000% over the control.

And while extremely effective, retargeting is limited by reach and availability, this dearth of inventory leads to significantly higher yield for these impressions for publishers.

Ad networks such as Criteo and Struq are frequently the highest yielding ad networks that we work with for our publishers, largely because they are targeting a specific user with a highly relevant message.

Rubicon Project is an Associate Member of AOP.

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