Rubicon’s strategy seems to be to partner in order to proliferate. Addante distinguished Rubicon from the crowded ad tech field by noting the numerous companies that use Rubicon’s technology. Besides working with InMobi, Rubicon is also partnering with Comcast ad sales unit Spotlight to position display ads across its Xfinity assets.
Ultimately, Rubicon’s goal, according to President Greg Raifman, is to provide a “single platform to monetize inventory.” This can occur either via open exchange, as with its collaboration with InMobi, or through private exchanges, as with the Comcast partnership.
“There are only two large exchanges: us and Google,” Addante said, noting that Rubicon is independent, while Google has owned-and-operated sites – a set-up that creates a possible conflict of interest. If this was an attempt to increase interest in Rubicon’s stock, which had fallen 20% since the IPO, it worked as the stock jumped in after-hours trading.
This observation around owned-and-operated sites was a shot not only at Google, but at Facebook as well, which recently bought the video ad platform LiveRail.
“One reason we need to exist is to be that open, independent exchange that doesn’t have owned-and-operated properties that compete and puts us in channel conflict,” Addante said. “Facebook has a lot of video on site, and [LiveRail] will give them better ways for them to monetize.” He noted that the social media company has “typically not made their product available to third-party sellers.”
And video, for Addante, is the next frontier. Although Rubicon is still in private beta for its video capabilities, he said he believes the company's value and differentiator will be its ability to access cross-platform audiences.
Rubicon’s paid impressions declined last December; this was an attempt to combat fraud by cleaning the network of nonhuman impressions. Traffic quality control will continue to be a priority, Addante said. “Our focus is on a safe, well-lit platform for buyers and sellers to transact, and to increase inventory and quality.”
Addante also wants to better create value around Rubicon’s data sets.
“We process mounds of data,” he said. “There are 4 billion bids, which are data signals, from 600 million users. The value of that data is incredible, and we are just at the tip of the iceberg in putting that to use. If I were to identify a hole, it’s in creating value in that data.”