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Focus on the Right Competitors

Last week our CEO, Frank Addante, presented at Digiday’s Digital Publishing Summit in Dear Valley, Utah. The presentation, titled “Realizing the True Value of Digital Experiences” was focused on elevating the conversation among the advertising ecosystem and encourage everyone to start thinking in a new way. He proposed to the room that we should all start working together instead of against each other  to capture a larger percentage of the $200B waiting to be claimed by the industry.

Posted below is Frank’s presentation, along with the key highlights. You can read Frank’s full post blog post, including his advise on working with competitors, on his Founder’s blog.

We encourage everyone to get involved in the conversation around realizing the value of the true digital experience. You can participate on twitter by following Rubicon (@RubiconProject) or Frank (@FrankAddante).

Key Points:

  • Something’s wrong: consumers are valued at 10X the rates when reading the same article in the NY Times print newspaper vs. shifting their attention 90 degrees to their computer reading the exact same article online at the exact same point in time
  • Digital experiences are getting richer:  started with AOL walled garden of content, World-Wide-Web came along and brought a flurry of content from premium websites, social networking connected everyone and inspired user generated content, video brings emotion and dimension and now with tablets we can hold the Internet in our hands (just like a newspaper)
  • But, we’re not capturing the increased value (rates/value are still the same as they were 10 yrs. ago)
  • Publishers are over-reacting:  they aren’t able to capture value so they’re throwing up pay-walls – blocking consumers from content and shifting burden to them to monetize it (opposite of the Internet promise of content access), they fire ad networks because of concern about pricing, they strip their valuable brands out of the market when selling through channels (concerns over channel conflict) and block data because of privacy concerns
  • Advertisers are reacting too: they’re holding back billions of $$ from the market because they want the exact opposite – transparency, leverage data, harness the innovation from over $1BN that was invested in ad technology in 2010 alone, and they need efficiency (it costs 3X as much to buy online vs. offline) – doesn’t make any sense in a tech driven environment!
  • Lastly, sorry to say it – but the way we sell media is bullshit!  We’re using tactics from the 1950’s – the “mad men” martini lunch days.  The best dinner wins, not always the best value or the best technology
  • If this continues:  lower revenues will lead to lower quality content which will attract lower quality audiences which will eventually be commoditized (and yes, traded like pork bellies) which will only lead to lower revenues and so on and so forth…
  • The quality content business could go out of business.
  • Lots of talk in the industry (committees, forums, working groups, etc.) — but no action!
  • Instead:  energy focused on competing with each other, like rats eating at the last piece of pie (like it’s the last dollar in the market)
  • But, there’s a much bigger pie available (5X as much $$ – $200BN)
  • We at the Rubicon Project propose a new way forward:  work together instead of against each other
  • We take the term “project” in our name very seriously.  We’ve been working from day one to help the industry and the ecosystem realize the true value of digital experiences.  We’ve been committed to efficiency, transparency, an open market and harnessing and organizing the collective innovation and value that’s been created in this market — this from day one.
  • Now, we’d like to invite everyone to join the project…
  • By everyone, we really mean everyone:  our 450 customers, 600+ ad networks/exchanges/DSPs who participate in the REVV Marketplace, our smaller competitors (AdMeld, Pubmatic) – we’d be foolish to think we can solve every problem in this market alone –  and the big giants in the space (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, etc.)  Yes, the big guys have billions of $$ being spent with them and you probably think you can go at it alone…  But, if we can all come together to solve this problem, there are billions more waiting for us.
  • What if we took all of the energy we spend working against each other and instead worked together?  What if we:
    • create an open market
    • make it easy for advertisers to buy (easier than broadcast and print)
    • deliver value to the consumer (through advertising)
    • unlock the benefits of data; safely
    • embrace privacy and put it in the hands of the consumer (where it belongs!)
    • provide a risk-free environment where publishers are safe to leverage the billions of dollars that they’ve collectively invested into their brands
  • Let’s get connected!  Work together to solve these problems.  Because… if we can, there are over $200BN more dollars waiting for us!

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