AppNexus can be a tough company to draw a bead on. First, it's not public and so isn't required to disclose revenues, profits, or cash on hand. Second, it functions as a marketplace intermediary, sitting between media buyer and seller, and sometimes between other intermediaries. As such it's not directly measured by the likes of comScore, Nielsen, or Kantar/TNS.
So we have to settle for metrics it chooses to disclose on headcount, global expansion, impression volume, data capacity, product roadmap, and partner growth. Yesterday provided an opportunity to glean details in a few of these areas, as the company hosted its annual summit in New York City.
Below are highlights from the event, which was held at the Times Center with a Nor'easter bearing down.
Staffing. AppNexus's headcount is now over 300. A handful of fresh appointments highlight its determination to capture global market share while maturing as a business. Lynda Clarizio, former CEO at AOL's Platform A, joins as EVP corporate development and operations. Former Googler (in the retail vertical) Heather Forrester comes on as country manager in Canada. And two board members have been added: Brian McAndrews of aQuantive fame, and former Skype advisor Ed Gillis.
Product. AppNexus shared some details on recent platform enhancements and plans for 2013:
- AppNexus is quickly ramping up on the Facebook Exchange, where it is one of approximately 15 real-time bidding partners. It now has exposure to 7 billion daily impressions on FBX, up from zero in July -- a large and important new inventory source.
- Bid volume is significantly up. Two years ago, AppNexus processed 40,000 bid request per second on "external" inventory. Today it says that figure is at 400,000 requests per second. It says external and custom inventory sources separately account for about 15 billion impressions per day.
- Data capacity has grown 6x since AppNexus undertook a rebuild of its data platform 18 months ago. It can now process 1,200 terrabytes, or 1.2 petabytes.
- New APIs will allow advertisers to import their data and attribution models. Phase one of this project is a "Segment Modifier" buyers can use to input user valuation models into its system. For example, if a marketer or agency has identified one user with intent to buy a $500 tablet and another in market for running shoes, it can set the relative transaction value of those prospects and allow AppNexus's system to optimize bid prices accordingly.
- An internally developed Ad Network Manager app will show up on AppNexus's platform in the near future. It will allow ad buyers who work with outside ad networks such as Google's AdSense to more easily run integrated campaigns by importing cookie and optimization data, for example. "There are external ad networks that have chosen not to integrate with AppNexus," said VP Product Pat McCarthy. "Our clients still need to work with these external ad networks. There are clients doing this through our console product today. It's frankly just too painful." The Network product will reduce the time investment and manpower needed to do this.
Perception: AppNexus appears eager to show it has a deep bench of talent beyond the C-suite. During one session numerous product execs appeared on stage to show off features, some fully baked and some still in development. The format may have been intended in part to counter a recent Business Insider story on the departure of product exec Ari Paparo. The piece implied AppNexus is has struggled to retain senior talent and to raise funding at a desired valuation (AppNexus has taken a total of $65 million in venture capital).
International. AppNexus is in the middle of a significant European push, having struck a deal with Deutsche Telekom’s German “sales house” Interactive Media on a new publisher ad platform (ExchangeWire story). That followed a deal with telco Orange to power the Orange Ad Exchange across Europe – business it won from OpenX.
AppNexus's interest in Europe not only about partnering with agencies and media sellers, but increasingly about product innovation as well.
Speaking with AdExchanger after today's event, CEO Brian O'Kelley praised the creative energy from European startups, despite having less access to VC. In the U.S. he said VC dollars are often funneled into sales and marketing rather than product.