From DoubleClick Ad Exchange To Xandr To The Vistar Media Board

Michael Rubenstein, known for creating DoubleClick Ad Exchange and serving as president of AppNexus, has some "cool new stuff" up his sleeve. 

"I'm always working on developing new concepts to bring to advertising and marketing, and working with existing teams to strengthen support for companies," Rubenstein said. "Digital out-of-home and digital advertising continues to be things I'm interested in, which is why I'm so excited about working with Vistar." He was careful not to reveal too much information.

Rubenstein recently joined Vistar Media’s Board of Directors to support the growth of the global provider of programmatic technology for digital out-of-home (DOOH).

Rubenstein is known in the media industry for his ability to build and manage leading advertising technology companies. He also is co-founder and served as president of ecommerce aggregator OpenStore, a direct-to-consumer store.



“Vistar is a very strong technology company,” he said. “They are on the cutting edge in the ad-tech space. The companies I’ve always been involved in have also been very strong.”

Vistar released a first half-of-year update in August, when the company reportedly saw a 52% year-over-year increase in unique monthly demand-side platform (DSP) users. The company also saw a 54% YoY increase in advertisers running campaigns through its supply-side platform (SSP) via omnichannel DSPs across the United States. 

Rubenstein said Vistar is working with artificial intelligence, and that all technology companies will need to adapt AI.

Most will become a media company this way. When Data & Programmatic Insider asked why he agreed to sit on the company’s board, he said Vistar reminds him of what “we built at AppNexus and DoubleClick. All the tools to complete on a big stage.”

Rubenstein had built multiple companies in the advertising space, including Xandr (formerly known as AppNexus) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange. He has seen the company grow from innovations to global platform providers.

There are a lot of challenges, he said, but Vistar is well on its way to meeting and conquering them.

What is Vistar’s biggest challenge? Rubenstein said it is the ability to build awareness for this “powerful digital out-of-home platform.”

There is an adoption curve for any innovation, he said, pointing to programmatic in display as an example. It took a decade of evangelizing the technology, building tools and helping the industry understand the opportunities in the media. The same will occur with OOH, he said.

“There are many great use cases for the technology, but there’s still learning to do,” he said, basically because the majority of OOH impressions are not digitized. Wait for it. The transition will play out and flip the media, he said.

And with all the innovations he created, Data & Programmatic Insider asked Rubenstein if he ever thinks about how he changed the advertising industry.

“I feel very privileged to have been a contributor to the companies I built,” he said, humbly. “It’s been an incredible journey, and I hope to do it many more times.”

The main message for advertisers and agencies that we have the tools, measurement and scale to make the media a high-impact ad format for brands. There are a variety of marketing objects, from increasing awareness to performance, he said. Whether it’s for OOH budgets or omnichannel marketing, it’s ready.

Rubenstein started his first marketing and advertising business while in college, and then became a member of one of the earliest online ad companies. It was a commercial, permission-based email marketing company supporting Barnes & Noble, J.Crew, and Continental Airlines.

“It was like MailChimp a couple of decades before it existed,” Rubenstein said.

DoubleClick was sold to Google in the 1990s for approximately $3.1 billion.

"I got to DoubleClick by the sale of the company," he said. "Then I created a new division called DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which Google now owns.”

Marketplaces popped up in a variety of market segments, but none for online advertising. At the time, DoubleClick felt threatened by the rise of Google, which was developing its own advertising platform. Rubenstein viewed the ad exchange as a way to enhance the value by giving advertisers and publishers a way to interact with each other.

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