Need display? Would you like Google or… Google?


Google’s recent announcement that it will acquire Admeld no doubt has executive teams and boards in a flurry of analysis to determine what it might mean for their business. Whether you are counting the money you’ll make on your ad tech shares, or running to the hills for cover, it’s clear that this move will further consolidate the display advertising market.

But it is not inevitable that choice be winnowed down to Google or…Google—for publishers, advertisers or anyone else in the ecosystem.  The biggest thing Google will have going for its mega-stack is convenience.  The rest of the industry needs to provide alternatives that are also convenient.  This is why it’s time for interoperability in the digital advertising economy.

The early success of the OpenRTB initiative proves that independent buyers and sellers across the industry can and will cooperate to create interoperability standards that can enable competitive players to work together more easily.  This is already enabling more price and service choice for advertisers and publishers, while at the same time reducing the vexing complexity of our ecosystem.

The first round of OpenRTB standards are being rapidly adopted by DSPs and exchanges for real-time bidding interfaces and block list management for display, mobile, and in-stream video inventory. Almost all of DataXu’s new inventory partners are using OpenRTB, rather than a proprietary (and therefore more costly) protocol—including Admeld, who is a founding member of OpenRTB. Many naysayers thought it wouldn’t really come together at all—let alone within six months of OpenRTB’s launch. Our continued hope and belief is that this important standards initiative will move forward under the auspices of the IAB.

The next logical step is that OpenRTB needs to set standards for exchanging the “referee data”, otherwise known as ad server log files, some 70% of which are produced by Google’s DFA. Ad server log files are what advertisers use to determine which tactics and inventory are working in their campaigns. DSPs, DMPs, and other vendors can use the refereed campaign results to make smarter decisions, produce better analytics, and continue to grow the industry, all while maintaining robust competition and its twin virtues: innovation and price competition. Today this is very difficult because the necessary interfaces are disparate or non-existent, or simply not made available with adequate support.

At present, the convenient choice here is not surprisingly… Google!  They can leverage referee data very easily within their own stack of DFA, AdEx, Invite, and now Admeld.

So, to my colleagues in the industry:  Yes, we compete with each other every day, and we will continue to do so! But we must also cooperate to expand the common ground we’ve found in the connected world of RTB to ensure that the convenience of market consolidation does not come at the expense of price and service choice.

— Aaron Kechley, VP Product Management