“Entrepreneurs, for one,” Addante said. “Look at who started most of the ad companies: salespeople who worked at another ad net or DSP. So they think, ‘Maybe I should take my clients and do business on my own.’ This accelerates that even further. Not that we’re saying to go leave their jobs, but we make it easy to help people start their own business.”
Addante and Tim McQuillen, Rubicon’s “chief knowledge officer” who leads the Garage, speculated that those using the DSP builder could, for instance, construct a platform focused on sports, or on digital out-of-home. The goal, McQuillen said, is to spur innovation beyond what Rubicon had considered.
Of course, the ad tech LUMAscape is awash with DSPs – some specialized in areas like mobile or video. It makes sense to wonder if verticalized DSPs would further fragment an already-fragmented market.
Addante says no.
“Think of it from an advertiser’s perspective or app developer’s perspective. It creates more opportunity for them. A sports advertiser’s needs are different from a travel company’s needs. So specialties are good for the market.”
While both the high-frequency cloud and the DSP builder seem central to Rubicon’s stated goal to be an ad tech infrastructure play, both were developed quietly in an R&D shop that has existed for about nine months – but kept a low profile until recently.
“As the company gets bigger, it’s more difficult to innovate at scale,” Addante said. “We have to do those experiments without distracting the company and to take risks without harming the growth of the company.”
These challenges are familiar among ad tech companies that go public. On the flip side, if Rubicon hadn’t IPOed, it might have lacked the money to build out its Garage products.
“The whole driver in going public was to gain access to the capital and currency, to really accelerate the growth and innovation of our business,” he said. “We’ve invested heavily in tech and development. When you compare it to other ad tech companies, our ratio is flipped. We’ve invested less in sales and marketing and more in technology.”