As we bid adieu to 2017, we asked several people across RhythmOne to weigh in on what shaped the ad tech ecosystem this past year and what drove our company forward…
Ted Hastings, CEO
In 2017, the industry had the “aha” moment that scale is a critical ingredient to maintain competitiveness in ad tech. And with scale comes the demand for both quality and transparency. There was a lot of M&A news in 2017 which strongly indicates the next phase of evolution is upon us. Headline grabbers included Disney, Oracle, Sizmek, RocketFuel, Taptica, Tremor, Altitude, Genesis, and others. We also grabbed a few headlines of our own with acquisitions of Perk, RadiumOne, and our pending YuMe transaction.
Richard Nunn, CRO
2017 was another year of evolution in ad tech with transparency being one of the consistent buzzwords throughout the year – whether about brand safety or fees. With the so-called ‘tech tax’ taking value out of the chain from Publisher to Brand spend, the numerous point solution businesses are becoming unsustainable. This has resulted in accelerated ad tech M&A with the aim of providing greater yield to publishers and enhanced ROI back to the Agency / Brand. Not to mention trying to provide an alternative to the duopoly that commands over half of all spend globally. Agencies are under increasing margin pressure themselves justifying their own value in the chain with their clients. We’ve seen agency media buying networks consolidate within their own holding companies which is a sure sign of financial pressure, as well as profit warnings from some of the same groups.
Karim Rayes, VP, Publisher Development
2017 was the year where Publishers began to regain more control and transparency thanks to the launch and rapid adoption of ads.txt. It was also the year of server-side header bidding. Many publishers took the leap and started monetizing their sites via a variety of new solutions. This past year, RhythmOne partnered with the top server-side providers in the market to give publishers a variety of integration choices. Mobile growth continued in 2017 while desktop remained stable. We saw many publishers invest in transitioning their websites to be mobile responsive. RhythmOne has always had a mobile-first focus, and we continued in this vein in 2017 by offering great mobile monetization solutions to our publishers. And as my colleagues have also noted, this past year was a year of consolidation. Many of our publishers highlighted the need to simplify their tech stacks while advertisers looked to reduce duplication of ad requests.
Rupert Staines, MD International / Craig Tuck, MD UK / International Teams
2017 has been a fascinating rollercoaster at RadiumOne; internationally we came into the year on the back of a very successful Q4, a growing presence and reputation in our newer operations in Australia, Singapore, and Italy and an exciting sense of where the industry was heading. The subsequent acquisition by RhythmOne affirmed everyone’s hope that we could start to close the loop between the Demand side and the Supply side and begin to deliver compelling Programmatic Media solutions to our Agency customers.
Benjamin Rathbun, Interactive Marketing Manager
Industry-wide consolidation this past year led to a closing of the gap between programmatic ad tech and creative, and RhythmOne was right in the middle of the change. As a result of our acquisition of RadiumOne, we found greater opportunity to pair our creative capabilities with data signals and further integrate our creative management platform into our end-to-end programmatic stack. Additionally, our creative build capabilities are now available globally and are actively supporting our extended US, EMEA, and APAC presence. In parallel to these developments, ensuring a quality consumer’s experience has become paramount. This awareness has led to the IAB developing the LEAN creative guidelines. We were excited about LEAN, and in an effort to be a leader in the initiative, we rapidly adopted the principles into our creative management platform.
Bhaskar Ballapragada, SVP, Product
This year has been a year of consolidating our programmatic stack and building an end-to-end platform. We accomplished this by building out our publisher-side offerings including header bidder, server-to-server integrations and integrating RadiumOne’s Demand Side Platform. We did this while maintaining our commitment to network quality as validated by our number one ranking on Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index. We also rolled out our Guaranteed Marketplace (GMP) which allows advertisers and agencies to buy RhythmGuard qualified low IVT (<1%) and high viewable (>70%) inventory.
Nilesh Dhawale, Director, Products
2017 was a great year for our Header Bidder family of products for Publishers and Exchange Bidding Beta with Google. On the data front, we bolstered our Analytics suite and advertisers found our interactive user-journey insights impactful. We also enhanced our proprietary user-interest scoring techniques by customizing BigARTM to work with our unique data at scale. In 2018, this will help power more granular interest-based audiences for advertisers to target within our PMPs and GMPs.
Vish Tella, Product Manager
The concern over brand safety was a recurring theme in 2017. RhythmOne has always been on the front line of this battle – constantly pushing our programmatic platform to offer the best quality inventory available. You could say we “doubled down” this past year by more closely integrating with Grapeshot and filtering out questionable inventory to ensure our advertisers that they are on contextually appropriate sites that they approve. To further our desire to offer the best quality inventory, we also launched our Guaranteed Markeplaces (GMPs).
Katie Paulsen, VP Influencer Marketing / David Neuman, Director, Sales Strategy
Influencer marketing became a mainstream marketing channel in 2017, and it’s now widely utilized by brands across verticals. And with brands achieving great success with their influencer marketing campaigns directed toward consumers, it’s no surprise business-to-business (B2B) influencer marketing saw significant growth this year. In fact, influencer marketing has emerged as a vital marketing strategy for B2B brands who have leveraged relevant influencers across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other B2B channels. Our team has been excited to see the adoption and growth of our own B2B influencer offering this year.