section sponsor - Jay Stevens, VP and GM international, The Rubicon Project

Jay Stevens, VP and GM international, The Rubicon Project 2009 was a successful year for online ad networks, with advertisers and their agencies increasingly investing in network buys offering good reach and scale. The research we commissioned from econsultancy in September revealed that 46% of advertisers and their agencies are working with more networks than they were a year ago, and more than half of online publishers say their revenue from online display advertising has increased over the past year.

The big trend for 2010 is the arrival of demand-side platforms (DSPs) in the UK. These dedicated buy-side tools help media buyers aggregate media and bid on and optimise online display inventory across exchanges and yield management platforms. They could threaten ad and affiliate networks by squeezing margins and competing with them for budgets. In the US we have seen rapid adoption of DSPs. Some agencies diverted spend away from ad networks to DSPs before realising they lacked the inventory, scale and level of service agencies require, prompting them to readjust the balance. Rubicon is working with 12 DSPs around the world and there are several in the UK already. The technology is exciting, but while advertisers are interested in the possibilities for increased automation, optimisation and real-time bidding, publishers are concerned about losing their data, channel conflict and seeing rate cards erode. As such, fair and efficient business practices that protect the publisher need to continue to be put in place.

Ad networks are a key part of the online advertising ecosystem, delivering excellent reach across vast swathes of inventory at effective cost. The majority of the innovation in the online media industry has come from the networks, with new technologies such as tracking, deduping and retargeting delivering increasing performance for advertisers and revenue for publishers. The forward-thinking online ad networks are innovating by building DSPs or developing products to optimise and integrate with DSPs. The networks that don't do this need to partner, white-label or acquire DSPs to avoid being left behind

At the same time, publishers need to ensure they establish clear and efficient trading permissions to specify which partners may access which inventory, how, where and at what price. $20m a month is traded in real time on DSPs around the world at the moment, and experts predict that 15%of US ad spend will be trading through DSPs by the end of 2010, followed by other media markets around the globe.

As DSPs and real-time bidding prove themselves, marketing budgets will increasingly move online, and we are likely to see this having a knock-on effect for the overall media industry, with optimisation techniques extend across all aspects of media planning and buying.

The Rubicon Project