News Corp. Dumps Investment In Rubicon Project

News Corp., which had invested in Rubicon Project, dumped its 8% minority stake in the ad tech firm, according to an SEC filing on Friday. The media giant appears to have transferred its interest in ad tech to AppNexus, which plans an initial public offering in the near term. The divestment in Rubicon is another sign of a consolidating ad-tech sector and certainly of shifting allegiances. Rubicon has seen top executives leave the company, layoffs, and losses in recent months. The company has acknowledged that it was late to enter header bidding, a key technology that has driven growth for many companies in the sector.

Now header bidding technology is moving from the client side to the server side. AppNexus’ creation of an open-source prebid.js wrapper is widely seen as an improvement in header-bidding technology. This technology puts the company in a stronger position as the next evolution of header bidding takes hold. Other firms are racing to launch server-side header bidding and to get ahead of the next tech iteration.

For its part, News Corp. originally obtained a minority stake in Rubicon in exchange for Fox Audience Network, its online ad unit. News Corp. signaled its interest in AppNexus in September 2016 with a $10 million investment. In addition, it entered a master services agreement that enabled its media properties to use AppNexus products. News Corp. obviously perceived a star on the rise. It's important to note that News Corp. owns Unruly, an in-stream video advertising firm it acquired it in 2015 for $90 million.

News Corp. is smart to own ad tech. Doing so helps consolidate costs and make things more efficient, or at least that’s the hope.

A representative for Rubicon didn’t respond to an inquiry for comment by publication time.

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