ad network ad server

Rubicon Project Update – Free Ad Server Launch and Visit Us at ad:tech San Francisco

April 15th, 2008   |   by Frank Addante

Although I try to keep this blog very focused on entrepreneurial lessons and stories, a lot of people have requested I share some of Rubicon Project’s news on this blog. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can balance both without compromising the lesson-oriented posts. So, I’m going to label any Rubicon Project news with “Rubicon Project” first in the title for easy identification. I’m copying a blog post that I wrote on the Rubicon Project website into this post (below).

Short version – we launched a Free Ad Network Ad Server today, a literal first for the industry. You can read a bit more about it in the Wall Street Journal (“Rubicon Project Goes Live”) and MediaPost (“Rubicon Project Takes on Google with Free AdServer”) articles. Or read more below or click here

And, come visit me at ad:tech San Francisco (booth #6166), I’ll be there with the whole team this week (see below). We’ll be serving espresso in the morning and beer in the afternoon along with giving away cool tunes from our partner Om Records.

Oh, and the lesson for today’s post: get yourself a rock star team, it makes all the difference in the world!

Gotta run… Hope to see you at ad:tech!

~~~ My Post from the Rubicon Project Blog ~~~

Greetings everyone! I’m Frank Addante, CEO and one of the founders of the Rubicon Project. Today is a very big day for us. Our whole team is excited to finally unveil a number of things we’ve been working diligently on the past three months. But first, I have to tell you, I am incredibly proud of what this team has accomplished in such a short period of time. For example, our engineering team has, literally, been working around the clock for weeks now. And even though we all could use a long nap the atmosphere around the office has continued to be energized — even at 4am after multiple rounds of all-nighters. The commitment to building a world-class product is unshakeable.

We are quickly approaching out 1-year anniversary since starting the Rubicon Project (see my original blog post) which, when I think about it, is truly amazing…. On one side, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time: we’ve served 11+ billion ads across 750+ certified websites, developed deep relationships with 62+ top ad networks, we’ve built a stellar team of 40+ people and we’ve forged and created a new category – Ad Network Optimization. On the other side, like they say, time sure flies when you’re having fun– And we are having a lot of fun!

The main intent of our private beta was to learn and test our theory that websites need a better solution to manage and generate revenue from ad networks. We were overwhelmed with the positive response. We originally planned to try and sign up 500 websites for the private beta over the course of 6 months. To our surprise, more than 500 signed up the very first day, with 5000 websites having signed up since. We’ve learned a ton and are now launching products and services based on those learnings as we move into phase II of our mission.

I want to bring you up to speed on all of the news from this week and last, starting with today.

This Week:

Free Ad Network Ad Server
We launched a Free Ad Network Ad Server today (see press release). Ten years ago, I created one of the first ad servers (it was called adMonitor). That is where I first worked with my co-founders Craig, Julie and Duc. DoubleClick was our #1 competitor and the 800-pound gorilla at the time. adMonitor grew to be the second largest ad serving platform behind DoubleClick who later acquired it after our IPO. Back then, 100% of ad space was sold by in-house direct sales teams (or exclusive ad sales rep firms). Times have changed. Today, up to 80% of ad space goes unsold directly. And a lot of websites depend on ad networks for 100% of their revenue. Ad servers were designed for direct sales, not for managing ad networks. Websites have told us that their ad servers do not help them efficiently manage ad networks. In response, we created the industry’s first free Ad Network Ad Server – specially designed for managing ad networks. I believe this product will help ad networks and websites work together more efficiently – creating a better growth opportunity for both. Click here to check it out…

New Ad Network Optimizer Release
We have made significant enhancements to our core product, our Ad Network Optimizer:

  • Smarter Algorithms: We have upgraded our algorithms helping to boost CPMs even further, increase fill rates and kill default ads (unpaid or very low paying ads).
  • Ad Quality Screener: Websites have told us that ad quality is very important to them. In addition to the ad quality preferences and filters, we have added the ability to quickly screen ads from ad networks and pause unwanted ads.
  • Guaranteed On-Time Payments: Ad networks have varying billing and payment terms. This is a big challenge when working with multiple networks. We now centralize the billing so websites get one simple check from us -monthly- and we guarantee the payments come on-time even if the ad networks pay late.
  • Reporting: The entire user interface has been upgraded and there are many new reports based on all of the great feedback we’ve received.

Click here to learn more about the Ad Network Optimizer…

I don’t know where to begin to try and explain how much work has gone into this release. Both our engineering and market team’s have been hyper-focused on delivering a high-quality product that is a direct result of customer feedback.

Last week:
JT Batson, who leads our publisher team, already addressed a number of our new initiatives in last week’s post, so I will keep this brief.

  • Q1 Ad Network Landscape, Outlook and Trends: We have assembled our learnings and produced this 21-page educational report for the industry. (download the report…)
  • Golden Eggs Video: A simple, fun way to tell the complex story of the changing online advertising space the past 7 years. (see the video…)
  • New Website: Our business is driven by technology and data. We designed a site that reflected the real-time, dynamic nature of our business.
  • Ad Space Certification program: We are committed to helping ad networks grow their business. Ad networks (and their advertisers) have told us that if we can provide them with better classified inventory and assure it’s safety and accuracy, that they could do a better job selling and converting that inventory. As a result we launched the industry’s first Ad Space Certification program– a win-win for everyone. (learn more…).
  • Ad Space Finder: The more visibility we can provide ad networks into available ad inventory the more effective they can be. We now provide real-time visibility into the ad inventory of our website customers via the Ad Space Finder (check it out…).

Now in Public Beta:
Also, we have officially moved from private beta to public beta. What’s significant about that is we are now letting everyone in, not just the 750 websites we accepted into the private beta. The more websites that join, the more data our technology can use to analyze to make the right matches between ad impressions and ad networks and the greater exposure all inventory gets to more ad networks and more of their advertisers.

I know this is a long post. But, just writing this all out for the first time reminds me how much work the team has put into making this a big success for our websites and ad network partners.

The momentum and excitement are what’s keeping us going after many, many late nights. It’s nice to see people rooting for us and seeing what we’re doing being validated in articles in the Wall Street Journal (“Rubicon Project Goes Live”) and MediaPost (“Rubicon Project Takes on Google”). The team is running on adrenaline in place of sleep and this kind of fuel keeps them pumped.

One last thing…

Come visit us at ad:tech San Francisco this week!
Our entire team is going to be at ad:tech San Francisco this week for our first time exhibiting at a trade show. Yes, I did say the entire team (all 40 of us)! Why? Well, we always say our customers and partners are incredibly important to us. So we packed up the entire team and carpooled up to San Francisco (from LA.) We thought it would be great for everyone in the company to meet our customers and partners in person. So, we’ll all be here! Hopefully you’ll come out to see us, we’ll be easy to find — just look for people wearing black Rubicon Project shirts and a smile! Stop by our booth #6166 for some cool, free tunes from Om records or an espresso in the morning and beer in the afternoon!

(PS – don’t worry websites, should you need us the team will always be available. We covered our bases with a scheduled set-up for dedicated customer service.

That’s all I have for now… I’d like to personally thank all of our website publishers and ad networks for all the support. We’re committed to what we’re doing and your proactive support means a lot to us. And, of utmost importance to me, I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to my team – your passion and dedication inspire me every day!

We’re looking forward to the future!

Frank