The advantage of a global ad exchange – Rubicon Project

Alex Spencer - Sponsored by: Rubicon Project

Michael G. Barrett, president and CEO of Rubicon Project, shares some of the unexpected benefits of working across markets.

Over the past few years, access to technology has spread across the globe at an accelerated pace. More than half of the world’s population now uses the internet; almost two-thirds have a mobile device. With the explosive growth of worldwide technology, the ad tech industry has also become more global.

For companies, networks and exchanges in today’s economy, there are unique and sometimes surprising benefits that come with operating at a global scale. Here are a few advantages of a global ad exchange, ones that may not be immediately obvious.

Emerging trends
As a global exchange, Rubicon Project connects more than 900,000 advertisers, over 1m websites and 60,000 mobile applications in the world. With so many partners across continents, we’re able to interact with multiple markets concurrently. This gives us a unique advantage when it comes to identifying global trends – a prime example of which is the rise of video.

Back in 2015, video ad spend in the UK exploded, according to IAB figures, growing more than 50 per cent to £711m. At this time, the use of programmatic video was already a fact in Asia.

As an exchange that works with both the UK and Asia, we saw it was only a matter of time before video eclipsed display, so we developed technologies to meet the demands of video, which Cisco projects will account for 80 per cent of global internet traffic by 2019. If our exchange was more insulated, we may not have predicted this upheaval, or prepared for it.

Diversity of inventory
As the digital landscape continues to burgeon, so does the variety of platforms. With international scope, Rubicon Project has the opportunity to work with a diversity of unique inventory. We partner with companies like Spotify to automate their global audio inventory, and Clear Channel to automate out-of-home advertising – a market which is fast growing, with spending surging to £107m in the UK alone last quarter.

Meanwhile, the rise of OTT devices and their reach among users means more ad time, and more opportunities for marketers. eMarketer predicts weekly time spent with OTT (over-the-top) TV will near 19 hours in 2020. As a global exchange, we have the benefit of working across platforms, from desktop and mobile, to OTT and digital out-of-home.

In the coming years, the cost and depth of many screens will approach zero. The subsequent explosion of new formats will serve as fresh soil, pulling activity away from closed platforms and requiring a global independent exchange to connect it in a fair, consistent, open and effective manner.

As such an exchange, we have an inherent advantage. We’re able to facilitate both sides of the advertising equation – the buying and the selling of inventory. This means we are able to make digital’s increasingly diverse inventory available to all, offering publishers and buyers the opportunity to operate on an open and fair playing field. Recently, there’s been a demand for this kind of independence and initiatives like the GDPR are bringing increased transparency to ad tech in Europe.

In the big picture, the digital ecosystem is growing rapidly, and the increasing interconnectedness of our industry is fuelling its growth. For a long time, there’s been a differentiation between private and public exchanges, but with the rising global economy, perhaps a new question has come to the top of mind for the industry: how global are we? And ultimately, in today’s connected world, being global means having an inherent advantage.


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