Mediaocean, Rubicon Link Up in an Effort to Automate All Digital Media Transactions

Laborious Direct Advertising Market Forecast to Surpass $60 billion in 2016

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Mediaocean has tapped ad tech firm Rubicon Project to build a system aimed at automating the process of buying and selling the massive amount of premium digital media inventory that's still bought and sold through manual processes. In the process, the ad inventory that Rubicon offers programmatically will become available to ad buyers using Mediaocean.

The partnership between the two powerful players -- Mediaocean in order-management and Rubicon in ad tech -- could lead to the automation of a strenuous, manual process that has continued to plague both media buyers and sellers. It also could also create a stronghold for both companies in an industry with more media dollars flowing through automated buying systems.

Most buyers are already hooked up to Mediaocean, which has a core business of campaign management and billing automation. Rubicon, which started out as an ad tech company helping publishers sell their inventory programmatically and currently handles order management for more than 300 publishers, has since invested in ad tech tools that support programmatic buying and planning processes.

"This directly gives us a massive amount of media dollars going to our sellers that we didn't see before because those dollars are already flowing through the Mediaocean system," said Ryan Polley, senior VP and head of product management at Rubicon. "It hasn't been connected to a seller's system, but now all dollars are flowing to sellers."

And those dollars are not insignificant. "The direct advertising market, in which display advertising buys are largely executed manually and have yet to be impacted by the growth of programmatic technology, is forecast to surpass $60 billion in 2016," the companies said in a statement, citing data from International Data Corporation. A direct buy might also include formats such as video and native ads.

There might be more than 40 steps combined for the various players executing a direct transaction, including sending requests for proposals, punching order information into Excel spreadsheets, faxing insertion orders and tagging ads so they show up in the right place.

The new system, which integrates Rubicon's sell-side order-management technology into Mediaocean's existing technology, is meant to cut all that down dramatically. It won't be completely ready for the market for about six months, executives said.

"When you put billing and planning together, remove layers of steps that require one or multiple people to key information multiple times in multiple places, you remove that for the buyer environment and add the efficiencies that come with the automated buying process," said Mr. Polley.

For Mediaocean, the move reflects the need to evolve in an industry quickly moves toward more automation in the buying process.

"I have seen each side make deep technology investments to bring efficiency to the guaranteed digital media segment," said Manu Warikoo, chief product officer at Mediaocean, in a statement. "While there is exceptional progress being made, the information exchange between buyers and sellers is still afflicted with manual steps and friction."

For Rubicon, it means the potential for greater market share and more clients because sellers want to be where buyers are, and most media agency buyers already use Mediaocean software. Currently, Rubicon gets a percentage of the actual media spend flowing through its programmatic system. So if billions of new dollars flow through Rubicon's order system after the new joint system is built, Rubicon should see new revenue as well.

"The more the industry moves to automation, our market share will grow," added Dallas Lawrence, Rubicon's communications chief. While Rubicon has its own business objectives, he emphasized that this is also a play to create more automation in the industry. "It's not a walled garden. It's not owned by a holding company."

Rubicon and Mediaocean executives hope the collaboration will provide more insight into what buyers want most and how sellers should value their ad inventory. The system includes "more robust storefronts" where sellers can market their premium digital, video and mobile ads, the companies said, and get better visibility on demand in the market.

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