Some of the best events related to ad technology are produced by vendors and The AppNexus Summit is one of those as it draws a strong, global crowd of entrepreneurial ad tech types who are ready to listen to what is ultimately a compelling, well-crafted sales pitch for the AppNexus platform. Above all, the event sought to establish, if not cement, a leadership position for AppNexus in the world of digital, audience buying.
CEO Brian O'Kelley and CTO Mike Nolet joined company president Michael Rubenstein in guiding the attendees through an agenda of announcements and panel discussions.
On the announcement front, AppNexus as incubator led off. The company introduced "AppNexus Accelerate" with Tribeca Venture Partners, First Round Capital, and Venrock "agreeing" to potentially fund ad tech startups who leverage AppNexus APIs, tools and its app marketplace. What a deal for the VC as they get a first look at possible investments with, in effect, the AppNexus team vetting. From here, the best judges of potential, ad tech investment have always been the people who are in the space. Also, in the process, AppNexus further incents innovation for its platform. (Read the release.)
It's also potentially a good deal for startups, too, as they get to work with the AppNexus team and access to insta-capital. It would seem likely this idea will spread to other app platforms who seek to differentiate themselves - especially if app developers can be lured into exclusive platform agreements.
The next announcement came via BrightRoll CEO Tod Sacerdoti who carried the video ad torch. AppNexus said that BrightRoll Exchange video inventory is now real-time biddable through AppNexus. Video ad inventory from SpotXchange, Collective and even Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange are also expected to be on-boarded in coming months.
Later in the day, "AppNexus Apps 2.0" was the centerpiece as former DoubleClick-er and current AppNexus head of product, Ari Paparo, took the stage to discuss the formal launch of his company's app marketplace as well as discuss some of the apps that are already available. Here is where the wheat is being separated from the chaff as transparency of the app model brings light to valuable, data-driven point solutions or to pretenders.
Among the new companies bringing apps were comScore and Adobe who discussed/demoed their ad effectiveness and creative diagnostics apps, respectively, for the AppNexus platform. Read more about the apps here. With comScore and Adobe participation, AppNexus is surely hoping that more big names in tech, data, measurement and analytics will follow. The more that companies embrace the AppNexus platform, the farther AppNexus can extend its ad pipes and take on its frienemy Google.
A couple other notes on the day as AppNexus looked to assert its leadership positioning... O'Kelley reiterated his vision for an industry stance against piracy and making sure that no ads will be served on any site that may be complicit in downloads of stolen content. Privately, some ad tech types say this is already written into T's and C's with buyers. Even so, making the case for data-driven ads and bubbling up initiatives highlighting an ethical industry helps combat an industry image problem as regulatory efforts whirl.
CTO Nolet extended the thought leadership and made a case for not serving any ads on sites that did not promote good content. Manga sites were singled out as particularly wasteful. Nolet wasn't ready to reveal his company's future plans in this area, but he essentially said that better value needs to be brought to advertisers and publishers, especially, and that his company will be looking to help facilitate this in coordination with partners.
By John Ebbert