Katsur’s move to Rubicon comes as the years-long rumor of an impending IPO have again heated up (Katsur and Rubicon executives again declined to comment). Instead, Rubicon CEO Frank Addante, president Greg Raifman and Katsur said that the SVP of business operations position was intended to reflect the advertising world's wider adoption of automating workflow processes.
"When we started Rubicon six-and-a-half years ago, the central mission was to automate the process of advertising, and digital was simply the most obvious channel to begin with," Addante said. "We assumed that the analog media world would eventually catch up to that concept, but we've been surprised at how quickly the adoption of automated processes has happened. Tony's hire is intended to help match that need for greater automation in our own workflow, as well as for those entities outside Rubicon."
Rubicon has evolved since its initial days when it was known as a "yield-optimizer." Since then, the Los Angeles-based company has been lumped in with the sell-side platforms (SSPs) for publishers that emerged to challenge the ad agency-facing demand-side platforms (DSPs). While Addante often insists that Rubicon never identified itself that way, the company has gone from publisher services to operating a broader range of programmatic trading tools for both sides of the advertising sales divide.
Katsur, when asked if it’s still viable for advertising automation providers to be strictly sell-side instead of serving both publishers and advertiser, said that "it depends on the entity." He acknowledged that the wider offering does make a great deal of sense.
"I could point at a sell-side provider or a DSP or an ad network and find some incredible underlying businesses," Katsur said. "And I could point to ones that appear to have everything all together, but are actually pretty thin when it comes to the tech. For me, you don't have to be a platform. Being a technologist, I happen to lean toward platforms. And no matter where you're coming from, everyone is in the business that is increasingly automated. Platforms are the future."
When asked whether Rubicon’s future would include a product rollout designed to reach into traditional media channels like TV (NBC Universal led Rubicon's $9 million third funding round back in 2009), Addante said the company doesn't discuss future strategic plans. Nevertheless, he did add that having specific products in the pipeline to tap into other media is beside the point.
"We've always focused on the top sellers and buyers around the world, including Fox, WSJ, Viacom and others," Addante said. "And they're advertising exists across display, mobile, print, TV, radio. Theoretically, our platform doesn't care about those separate channels, just as it doesn't care [whether] ad placements are coming out of the US, Germany or France."