NMA piece I contributed to, small coverage for a big subject.

As the online display ad ecosystem continues to evolve, this map of the status quo highlights the essential cogs and major players

Comparing the UK online display ad marketplace of ten years ago with today’s shows how rapidly it has changed, from an exchange of media and money through an ad server to a technologically complex and multi-layered ecosystem. And it’s about to change again.

One of the most talked about developments of the last six months has been Google’s acquisition of Invite Media, a technology firm with a demand-side platform that lets advertisers buy from multiple ad exchanges through one interface, while providing people support services.

While automated buying through ad exchanges has been heralded as a way for advertisers to cherry-pick the most targeted impressions in real time, with publishers avoiding the wastage of bulk buys and getting the highest value for inventory, its success depends on an abundance of buyers and inventory, plus knowing how to define bids.

Infectious Media founder Andy Cocker, highlighting the complexity of what’s currently on offer, warns, “There are around ten companies to which agencies could go to license DSP technology. But unless they know how to bid in a safe and controlled way, and how to use data to buy, they won’t have a good experience.”

For these reasons, development of automated trading has been hesitant. But some media players expect Google’s acquisition to change this. They argue it’s an endorsement of how display trading will develop and that it will help pave the way for much-needed standardisation in an area of technology that’s hugely disparate.

“This space needs to develop as a marketplace. Google buying Invite will only bring sophistication,” says Marco Bertozzi, EMEA MD of Vivaki. “Because it’s so dominant in search, there are a lot of people who start wailing and pulling their hair out, but everyone’s still using DoubleClick. The natural reaction is that it’s a bad thing, but any investment in the space is a good thing.”

Google’s latest acquisition gives it end-to-end capability within the online display ecosystem. It now offers an ad server, ad network, ad exchange and DSP technology. The impact this will have is hotly debated by industry players.

“We’re investing significantly in technologies that are helping to grow the display advertising ecosystem for publishers, agencies and advertisers,” said a Google spokeswoman. “Like our partners, we see enormous potential in this space. Real-time display ad buying, in particular, is delivering significant benefits for all players.”

Yet Jay Stevens, international VP and general manager for The Rubicon Project, which works with publishers to optimise inventory yield, is worried. “Google’s acquisition of Invite represents the last link in that value chain,” he says. “It already controls a digital market through search. If it owns the display landscape as well, it’s monopolisation which will hurt agencies and publishers.”

Full article here http://www.nma.co.uk/features/online-display-map/3018213.article

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