Thought Leadership

Programmatic Resolutions for 2020

January 16, 2020
By Rubicon Project

Making New Year’s resolutions is a venerable tradition. As we usher in a new decade, here’s a look at how far programmatic advertising has come over the last ten years and some important resolutions to hold fast for 2020. 

Over Ten Years of Innovation

Over the past decade, programmatic advertising has grown from its infancy to a mature $100 billion dollar industry. Rubicon Project is proud to have played a critical role in that journey. 

In 2010, Rubicon Project launched support for real-time-bidding auctions, then in 2013, went first-to-market with Private Marketplace capabilities. By 2014, we had grown to become one of the largest Video Marketplaces, featuring nine formats. In 2015, we became one of the largest programmatic mobile exchanges in the world. Over the next two years, we launched emerging channels including audio, DOOH, programmatic TV, and OTT. We also renewed our commitment to transparent practices and pioneered open-source header bidding solutions. In 2018, we eliminated our buy-side fees, moved to first-price auctions, and developed Estimated Market Rate (EMR), an algorithm designed to help buyers avoid overpaying for impressions in our first-price header bidding world. 

In 2019, as Prebid became the open-source standard for header bidding, we launched Demand Manager, a service that makes it easier for publishers to build and deploy their own Prebid based solutions, making header bidding more efficient, while handing sellers more control. Now, at the onset of this new decade, here are some resolutions we plan to keep as we continue to pioneer new frontiers in programmatic advertising.

1) Demand Transparency

While much headway has been made in the last few years to bring more transparency to the media supply chain after leading buyers sounded a call for reform, there’s still more work to be done. Transparency is an essential condition for a free and open marketplace, and the days of black boxes and blindly paying the “ad tech tax” are no more. At Rubicon Project, we continue to focus on making our pricing, auctions, and practices fully transparent and hold our partners to the same standards. 

2) Embrace Open Source

As an industry, collaboration only makes us stronger. Currently, there’s an industry-wide initiative underway to work together to find common programmatic solutions, and this is only a harbinger of things to come. Today, hundreds of the world’s largest publishers are collaborating to use Prebid to manage their programmatic auctions. Meanwhile, more than 15 companies are members, and nearly 500 developers have contributed to its code. In 2020, Rubicon Project will continue to play a leading role in ushering in this new, open source era

3) Consolidate. Consolidate. Consolidate.

For too long, programmatic advertising has suffered excess, waste, and unnecessary complexity across the media supply path. With a focus on SPO and vendor consolidation, this is all changing. Buyers are no longer hitting “select all” with their supply partners, and instead, only choosing those that give them the most efficient, direct path to the publisher. Meanwhile, publishers are embracing exchanges as partners and streamlining their processes to more efficiently monetize their inventory. In 2020, less truly will be more

4) Commit to Quality

With the rapid growth of the digital ecosystem, maintaining ad quality has become a daunting task for publishers, buyers, and sellers alike. Meanwhile, with digital ad expenditures now surpassing TV, there’s more pressure on digital ads to perform: viewers expect a fluent, uninterrupted ad experience across all screens and devices. The adoption of ads.txt has been one of the most significant recent developments in programmatic ad fraud mitigation, but there are more measures that can be taken. To make ad dollars go further, it’s necessary that we tackle ad quality as an industry. If we do so, we all stand much to gain: the digital advertising industry has been estimated to gain tens of billions by eliminating fraud and flaws in the digital supply chain. 

Ultimately, while programmatic has matured considerably since its infancy, it still has more growing up to do. As we look forward to the next chapter, let murky practices, complexity, fraud, and lack of community standards be old acquaintances forgot and never brought to mind. Instead, let us usher in a new era of transparency, collaboration, and open-source standards. 

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