Today the U.S. Department of Justice approved Google's $400 million acquisition of Admeld, a startup that helps publishers maximize ad revenue through third parties such as ad networks and demand-side platforms as well as set up their own private exchanges, as USA Today, Conde Nast and others have recently done with Admeld technology.
The review was lengthy, a reflection of the complexity of the online ad marketplace. Google will now embark on the tough work of integrating Admeld into its ad technology "stack," a collection of acquisitions including DoubleClick, Invite Media and Teracent that it hopes will power the process of digital advertising. Admeld represents another tool for the publisher side of the business.
We spoke to the architect of Google's "stack," Neal Mohan about what it means.
Advertising Age: Why Admeld and how does this fit into the platform Google is building?
Neal Mohan: It comes down to two things, a terrific team and a terrific technology. As you know publishers care about overall revenue management from everything from premium sponsorships all the way to how they manage ad networks and third-party sources. Admeld allows them to build private exchange relationships. It also provides consulting to help manage those relationships. They help publishers make decisions in terms to how best maximize the revenue from the indirect sources of ads like networks, demand-side platforms and other third-party buyers.
It's a nice compliment to our DoubleClick for Publishers platform which is suited toward premium direct sales and we expect it will work well with our AdEx exchange. It really is about helping a publishers decide which one of the indirect channels will generate the most revenue.
Ad Age : How does this change Google's display business?
Mr. Mohan: I think the main point I would make is our business is about helping digital media companies grow and be successful. As more and more consumer time and consumption of content goes to digital -- be it magazines consumed digitally, video content being consumed digitally, newspapers read online -- all of those publishers need to generate revenue. Our suite of products -- the DSP, the ad server and exchange and now Admeld -- should do that in the best way possible. It allows us to do what we've been doing even better.
Ad Age : Why should publishers trust Google to mediate this process for them?
Mr. Mohan: We have a track record of working with publishers through DoubleClick. It is all done in a transparent fashion. Publishers can decide what advertisers they want to work with. When I talk to publishers they're not talking to me about trusting Google or not. They're more interested in working with Google to grow their businesses.
Ad Age : Who do you see as Google's competitors in building the "ad stack"?
Mr. Mohan: You've seen how dynamic the space is . There are lots of companies building out solutions. There has certainly been a lot of activity out there in terms of acquisitions and investments by Adobe, ComScore, Mediabank, Yahoo, Microsoft and others. Our focus is really squarely on building an integrated stack on the publisher side and a similar stack on the advertiser side. The principles of that stack are important: All the transparency and control should be in the hands of advertisers and publishers. They can bring in third parties in terms of data providers they work with and creative management companies and add them onto our stack. Our vision is to build an open platform that is easy to integrate with.
Ad Age : What do you think about Yahoo's attempt to cut middlemen out of their sales process? Will this hurt your own DSP Invite Media?
Mr. Mohan: They seem to be pursuing a slightly different approach. They are obviously an important player in the display space and we like working with them. The advertisers that use Invite Media are buyers on Yahoo. Invite has always given advertisers the ability to have a separate seat on the exchange. Our tech supports that capability.
Ad Age : Do you anticipate making more acquisitions going forward?
Mr. Mohan: We feel like what we have both on the publisher side and advertisers side is compelling. Of course the market is dynamic and changing all the time. Three years ago there was no such thing as a DSP. The way the market heads could look very different in 2015.