Rubicon Project Unveils 'Programmatic Direct' Platform, Launches In Mobile-Only Beta

In the programmatic ad space, buyers and sellers have turned their attention to quality inventory, with private exchanges and “programmatic direct” software emerging as two of the most popular methods for trading higher-quality inventory.

Programmatic direct is when buyers and sellers work directly with one another, but much of the planning, buying and reporting is automated.

Rubicon Project already offers technology to let publishers run private exchanges, but the company on Monday announced the launch of a programmatic direct platform in an effort to keep pace with competitors and expand what it offers marketers when it comes to buying “quality” inventory via programmatic.

The new platform is named 49bc. (The platform’s name is a nod to when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River during Caesar’s Civil War.)

Rubicon plans to roll out the platform slowly; it is currently being tested in private beta. 

Josh Wexler, head of buyer cloud at Rubicon, told RTM Daily that the company is starting with mobile only because “mobile is by far the most challenging part of the market for buyers and sellers,” what with multiple operating systems, mobile Web versus mobile apps, rising star units, etc.

Wexler said Rubicon wants to help drive the mobile market forward by focusing on it at first, but did say the company intends to implement desktop display and video support into 49bc by the end of the year.

The platform has been in the works for over a year, ever since Rubicon saw reports and trends indicating that non-RTB programmatic would grow at a rapid clip. In addition, Rubicon saw success with its private marketplace software.

“Publishers are getting much more comfortable with the idea of remaining in control of pricing,” Wexler said, referencing how publishers have reacted to the use of private marketplaces. “They want to continue to go up the stack and automate their guaranteed inventory.”

Rubicon says the new platform is capable of taking marketers “end-to-end” with campaigns, from discovering and buying inventory to the reporting at the end. Sellers are able to list packaged inventory on the platform, and Rubicon says negotiations can take place within 49bc’s interface.

“Automating the bidding process is something our agency has been doing for years now, but being able to automate the processes associated with direct guaranteed buys will allow our team to spend more time on high-value tasks…,” stated Megan Pagliuca, general manager and vice president of display media at Merkle.

Rubicon plans to demo 49bc at Internet Week New York.

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