Ad Servers: Wanted Dead or Alive

Yes, you can expect more Bon Jovi references as we prepare for our 22nd Publisher Forum in New Jersey on March 7th. Certain to be discussed at the forum are two announcements that have been made in the past few days. The Rubicon Project struck first, declaring that the ad server was dead. Today, Google announced their next generation of ad server. What’s this mean for Ad Ops leaders? Here’s the good news, the bad news and even more good news.

The good news: Competition for publisher-centric solutions is a very good thing for the overall industry. We’ve seen on the buy side of the equation a lot of competition and innovation and many people feel that the buy side has outstripped the capabilities of the sell side driving down CPMs and endangering publisher advertising-based business models. While there are a number of vendors in the space that have always been publisher-centric, it’ll be to all of our benefit if the amount and speed of innovation for publisher solutions grows. Too many core ad operations issues have existed for too long and to have more dollars focused on solving them will help balance the scales.

The bad news: Anyone looking forward to migrating their systems, again? Any core change of technology is a massive undertaking and I’m sure for any Ad Ops Pro, we’d rather 2010 be focused on moving the ball on many new areas than on just migrating systems.

The good news: All of this will raise the level of conversation about our businesses and Ad Operations role in the future. It’s hard to discuss a data strategy when your ad server can’t sufficiently support audience based targeting. How does one implement yield management processes when the tools don’t allow for some key yield capabilities? How can a publisher grow their business if all of their partners know more about their inventory than they do? My hope is that with both announcements, upper level management is going to look to Ad Ops to make sense of it all and with that allow Ad Operations to help make some key decisions that publishers need to make as we enter into this next era of online advertising. I look forward to hearing about those discussions at our upcoming events.