One walk through AdTech, or a gander at one of Terence Kawaja's diagrams of the landscape, tells you all you need to know about how muddled and confused the online ad marketplace is today.
Vendors of all stripes with their own algorithms, datasets and technologies send out their own sales reps to compete for smaller slices of the pie. But what if all those companies were apps you could plug into a trading system, apps you could select or un-select for each campaign?
That's what independent ad exchange AppNexus has built, and is unveiling at an event in Manhattan today. The idea is to attempt to simplify the world for advertisers, by allowing them to select technology providers from a menu rather than do separate deals with arrays of vendors. The partners control their experience and functionality within the app; advertisers can opt for one bill.
"Our goal with this App marketplace is to present ad tech providers with a new avenue for developing their business that allows them to focus on what they do best -- creating innovative ad technology -- rather than distribution of their offerings," said Ari Paparo, SVP of product at AppNexus.
New York City-based AppNexus is one of three major ad exchanges in the marketplace, including Yahoo's Right Media and Google's AdX. It has a partnership with Microsoft -- also an investor in the company -- to power its own ad exchange.
At launch, AppNexus' "App Marketplace" will include data providers Brilig, Exelate, Lotame, Proximic, uKnow and TARGUSinfo as well as privacy enablers Evidon and Truste. Apps from data exchange BlueKai, contextual targeting firm Peer39, Crystal Semantics and digital agency CPX Interactive are expected to launch in the next month.
Partners get exposed to AppNexus' huge client-base of advertisers and agencies, as well as ad inventory from Microsoft , Collective and Technorati, while perserving their own brand and relationships.
AppNexus is facing added competition from Google, which is working on integrating third-party data into various points of its ad technology system, which includes DoubleClick, Invite Media, and soon, newly-acquired AdMeld.