A Rivr Runs Through the Exchange: Simplaex’s AI-Powered Identification Layer

“Why is everyone unhappy in this industry?” asks Jeff van Ede, CEO and Co-Founder of Simplaex. “There is something fundamentally wrong in this industry, and with my nature as a troubleshooter, I couldn’t let it go.”

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that technology players like Facebook and Google are soaking up the majority of digital ad revenue? These companies are merely the gatekeepers to access data and users—well, access them at scale, which is where the real money is.

Because advertisers and publishers feel as if they’re forced into working with the Duopoly, they fling fingers of blame at each other (e.g., viewability, programmatic race to the bottom) and square off with increasingly ludicrous postures. Thus we remain in the era of sided platforms as Google, Facebook, and a little up-and-comer named Amazon gain more and more leverage over the larger digital advertising landscape.

“A lot of new technologies are developed to support either the advertiser or the publisher,” van Ede says. “Each is trying to outsmart the other side in getting a better deal. That might be good for either one individually, but the ecosystem suffers.”

Simplaex has an interesting solution—an AI-powered communication layer centrally located so it can assist publishers and advertisers better meet each other’s objectives, which VP of Strategy Benjamin Hansz was kind enough to detail for the crowd at Programmania during this year’s Ops. The beta rollout of Rivr (actually launched at Programmania) is greatly focused on SSPs, which are increasingly serving as exchanges or just preferred intermediaries.

The technology attempts to push bid infrastructure away from units to people-based marketing—evaluating bid streams on an audience level. By serving as an independent layer, River aims to classify users from the bidstream via bidding attributes from the buy side; profile attributes from the supply side based on data connected to bid requests; and user interaction gathered through monitoring.

Rivr theoretically allows the buy side, exchange, and sell side to exchange audience information through a secure channel. Van Ede explains that Simplaex does not store or enrich the data; it can be used a validation or verification tool by third parties. But the larger benefit will be using its AI Wallace to optimize recommendations to both buyers and sellers.

In effect, the company is proposing using this communication layer—or a “universal translator,” as Simplaex puts it—as a way to bypass IDs (including cookies). This could be a useful way to get around some of the pitfalls of GDPR, with the buy side able to rely more on the supply side data from publishers that have received consent.

It’s a fascinating employment of AI, one that could level the playing field for supply-side technology players that aren’t as well endowed when it comes to first-party data, but whom have solid technology and publisher partners with the data goods. Though it’s early days with Rivr now just launching in beta, the aim seems to be a solution that easily plugs into most technologies within the programmatic space.

Potentially, a tool like Rivr could sit side by side with other identifiers… Or such a communication or translation layer could actually replace the need for identifiers.