De-fragmenting RTB and the Challenges Facing Ad Servers in 2012: Q&A With OPS Markets Speaker Sean Harvey, Business Product Manager, Google DoubleClick

Pubs will enter the RTB market as buyers

At OPS Markets London on Thursday, Feb. 9, Sean Harvey, Business Product Manager for Google DoubleClick, will speak toward the “Audience Opportunity,” or how the sell-side can get a leg up in the bustling data trade. In this exclusive Q&A with AdMonsters, he tackles ad servers’ biggest challenges at the moment, publishers’ evolving use of the RTB space and unified measurement across platforms.

What are the challenges facing ad servers like DoubleClick in 2012? What are you doing to overcome them?

I focus on publishers and their challenges are ultimately our challenges. I see three big ones: video, audience and reconciliation. With video we’re being asked to invest aggressively in our premium video capabilities, especially around monetization and video syndication. Publishers ultimately want a single ad serving platform across display and video, so it’s our job to have the best tools for both. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.

On the data side publishers are demanding better tools to manage data. We need to provide analytics and insight that give them a good sense of why buyers are buying a given set of inventory and what its value is.

With respect to reconciliation, this is flat-out the biggest single operational stumbling block in our industry, period. We’ve tried industry standards and it just hasn’t worked. So we’re starting to build tools into DFP itself that will provide more direct integration, transparency and control over the whole process.

What are your thoughts on the RTB market in 2012 and who do you see as the key players/ones to look out for?

Publishers are the ones to look out for in 2012. This is the year that pubs will begin to enter the RTB market in force – as buyers. From a demographic and personal interest perspective, large publishers often know their users just as well or better than the big agencies. Taking that relationship with their audience and extending it offsite via RTB is a very big long-term opportunity. Some of our savviest sell-side customers are already using our DoubleClick tools to define their audience onsite and then extend that relationship across the web via RTB.

Many have touted 2012 as the year mobile realises its potential – do you agree? Can mobile be monetised effectively with the tools currently available?

We’re used to thinking of a “mobile” device as a phone. But a tablet is a “mobile” device too, and tablet applications are starting to provide a rich, interactive creativity. Tablets are going to be a major driver of industry growth next year, and the quality and interactivity of the ads they deliver will grow over time to be unparalleled in any medium.

We’re also seeing much greater demand from premium buyers for the ability to deliver true cross-platform campaigns that span from desktop to video, tablet and phone, with each platform having a key role to play and unified measurement across the environments. I would say this is the year of cross-platform – which encompasses mobile but is not limited to it.

What was the thought process behind acquiring Admeld and what do you see as the challenges for Google now in taking this on?

We wanted to give our publishers more control and flexibility in the way they manage their inventory and maximize their returns. The acquisition was just completed in December so it’s quite early to discuss integration, but we expect to be able to make AdMeld’s services available to our DoubleClick Ad Exchange and DFP customers over time.

What do you see as the main impact on the digital ecosystem of Adobe relinquishing Flash and opting for HTML 5?

Flash isn’t dead quite yet and will still be a big part of the mix for creative agencies in the coming year. But the increasing adoption of HTML5 will ultimately make life easier for everybody.

OPS Markets

Up to date on the latest happenings in the automated trading space? OPS Markets will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss and develop best practices for operational excellence in the evolving automated landscape. Register today for OPS Markets, which will be held February 9, 2012, in London.