rubicon/donovan partnership – publishers should be wary

Mar 03, 2011 - Krux Digital - 0
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In one of the most interesting ad platform / ad exchange developments in recent memory, agency platform powerhouse Donovan Data Systems, in conjunction with Rubicon, announced its Direct Publisher Gateway (DPG) last week. This will give media planners and buyers direct-from-their-desktop connection from DPG into the Rubicon’s SSP inventory universe.

What does this mean for the industry? Well, compelling press releases are easy to write, so this could just be a useful cross-promotion vehicle for the two firms.

But on its face, this does look like a breakthrough development in automating and aligning buy- and sell-side processes. That’s the good news — I’m all for putting fax machines out of commission.

Now for the harder questions:

  • Does this represent a new and valuable monetization channel for publishers, perhaps catalyzing a more efficient spot market or delivering on the promise of a “secondary premium” opportunity shoehorned between direct and remnant sales?
  • Or, instead, does the entrance of Donovan simply mean there is now yet another intermediary looking to shave pennies, nickels, and dimes off of publishers’ eCPM margins?
  • Given Donovan’s staggering 80% agency market share, will this prove to be another powerful tool for planners and buyers to bypass publishers’ direct sales forces entirely?
  • With Rubicon developing such a deep relationship with an agency platform provider, is their role as publishers’ trusted revenue partner somehow undermined?
  • And what about Donovan’s intentions? With their agency reach, they are now only steps away from taking an active role in the market. What’s to keep them from becoming some kind of broker/reseller/agent themselves?
  • Moreover, could publishers wake up one day to find that their SSP, Rubicon, is actually just an exchange – or worse yet, a co-branded DSP with reach onto the desktops of 80% of media buyers’ desktops?

Depending on the ultimate scope of the relationship, it could represent a pretty disruptive move by the buy-side in the ongoing data and media arms race. And it certainly highlights the shifting market terrain and the risk posed by many market intermediaries.

I predict publishers will more than a little leery about this.

Read MediaPost’s coverage here and read the press release here.

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