Rubicon heavily investing into Header Bidding and PMPs
Publift Staff, Marketing
18 Sept 2017
As a key channel partner of Rubicon Australia – our team was invited to attend their regional summit on Thursday 24th August 2017. For publishers, Rubicon are one of the big 3 SSPs/exchanges that dominate the Australian market – so getting an insight into what they’re prioritising gives us a good idea of what’s happening in this market.
The 3 key take-aways for publishers from this event were – Prebid is dominating the Header Bidding world and will only get stronger. Rubicon are testing first price auctions – which means advertisers will pay their top bid, not the second price in the auction. This could mean better CPMs for publishers. And Rubicon are trying to make buying easier and more effective with their purchase of
Unusually for this type of event – Rubicon picked an out of CBD location for the summit. Zest at the Spit, Balmoral was a sick choice for a day like Thursday:
Located at the Spit Bridge in Sydney
Most of the key buy and sell side players in the region were attending – eBay, Spotify, Domain, Cadreon, Publicis, IAB Australia and of course Publift! Rubicon CEO Michael Barrett (formerly of SSP AdMeld which was bought by Google in 2011) kicked things off with an interesting keynote. He highlighted how quickly the digital display industry was evolving right now and discussed how the number of players in their space wasn’t sustainable. As the barriers to entry have been relatively low up until now we’ve seen lots of SSPs/exchanges/networks spring up. This has fragmented the market and made things more complicated for buyers and sellers. Rubicon
The middle portion of the summit addressed advertisers concerns around brand safety and scale. Header Bidding has introduced some complications as well as opportunities for buyers. Transparency into where they are buying has become more difficult with added technology layers and more
Brand safety for publishers was also addressed. Compared to other SSPs and networks we generally find Rubicon’s creatives very good. We’ve only had a few instances of nasty pop ups or bad ads and they have typically been resolved very quickly by the team at Rubicon. But it was good to hear about the technology they are using to make sure only top-quality advertisers can use their platform. Lots of filtering and automated detection systems to prevent spammy ads coming through.
Brand Safety Panel
Rubicon, Publicis, Integral Ad Science, IAB Australia and REA Group
Spotify provided a really cool distraction from all the display ad talk with their experience of programmatic audio. Yes, it does exist! 10% of Spotify’s AU users are free users – they don’t pay the premium license fee. This means they get ads between the songs and limited search/listen functionality on the app. You probably thought those ads were just the same as the ones you hear on the radio, right? Well – Spotify can pass a lot more information to the advertiser than radio stations can so their audio ads can be a lot more targeted. For example – most people sign into Spotify using their Facebook login. That means demographic data, interests, friends, etc. Add this to mobile app data like usage and location – then you have a pretty useful mix of targeting for advertisers. It’s not there yet – but those free users might be getting invited into the Nando’s they are walking past with a 30% discount on lunch in the very near future. The ad might even hear their name and be offered food that they probably like or have had before. Creepy? Maybe a bit – but very effective and targeted advertising. Programmatic audio is actually Rubicon’s fastest growing product segment in the APAC market.
Getting back to the display stuff that’s relevant to us and regional publishers – the afternoon of the summit focused on header bidding, PMPs and Data.
On the Header Bidding front (is it always a capital H and B? I never know but let’s go with it), Rohan from the Rubicon team gave a high-level view of what Header Bidding is and why it has spread so rapidly. He probably did the best job I’ve seen of explaining with a visual why Header Bidding is so effective – he has kindly shared those images with us above.
So, the first image above shows what used to happen in most ad servers. The blue squares are impressions that were allocated to direct orders. The grey impressions went to remnant orders. If we look at the spread of the most valuable impressions we see a pattern like the second image.
Those red squares are the most valuable impressions on your site. You can see they are spread throughout the whole space. Your direct orders will take all the impressions on the left-hand side (typically the first impressions your site generates each day). There may have been some valuable impressions on the left side that SSPs/exchanges would have paid a very high price for – but they never got the chance to compete for these impressions. The ad server had already allocated those first 30 impressions to direct orders. So, when we add in those valuable impressions SSPs/exchanges bought we get an impression distribution like the third image.
The direct orders took their 30 impressions. SSPs/exchanges bought some valuable impressions (red boxes) and the rest went to remnant orders. You probably made OK money from your impressions, but you didn’t make as much as you could have. What’s the solution?
You need to mix the 2 models so that you still deliver the high paying direct campaign impressions, but you also sell more valuable impressions to the SSPs/exchanges. That blended model looks like this:
Great – more money for the same impressions. Of course it makes sense for publishers. But why are we only doing this now? Well before Header Bidding it was impossible for SSPs/exchanges to identify the most valuable impressions (red squares) until the ad request was allocated to them by the ad server. It was kind of a lucky dip – where sometimes they would get a great impression (red square) but most of the time they would get a rubbish impression that didn’t generate much revenue (grey square). But with Header Bidding – we allow the SSP/exchange to see the ad request before it reaches the ad server. They can then send a bid to the ad server with the ad request. This extra information means the ad server can now allocate the best impressions to the highest paying order. If an SSP/exchange has a higher bid than a direct campaign – it wins the impression. This is represented by the red squares that are in the blue area. The direct orders still delivered their impression goals – just later in the day.
Rubicon has taken a bit of a shift in their direction with Header Bidding. We partnered with them last year to get the first Australian and New Zealand publishers live with Rubicon FastLane (their Header Bidding product). And the initial results were great. All the publishers saw at least a 30% increase in programmatic earnings/
On the PMP side – Rubicon are already leaders in this field, but they are continuing to develop new products and improve the existing ones.
First Price Auctions
For Data – I wasn’t at that round table but I think they were talking about first and third-party data. Specifically, about what advertisers could do with NToggle’s capabilities.
Simone (Rubicon Country Manager for Australia & New Zealand) wrapped up the summit with a quick overview of the key discussions. All in all – a very good ad tech event. We learned that most of the major SSPs/exchanges are heavily investing in and backing Prebid. We began to understand how Header Bidding is affecting buyers. And we heard about some interesting new technology like programmatic audio. A good way to spend a sunny Thursday. The drinks were good, especially with the views over the harbour. Unfortunately, as the designated driver I could only have Coke Zero so didn’t stay for long.