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巨头新秀携手玩转实时竞价

Alex Konrad 2012年01月17日

实时竞价这个互联网广告领域发展迅猛,新秀AppNexus在这个竞技场上的表现丝毫不比谷歌等巨头逊色。

    现如今几乎浏览任何网页,随着页面加载都会出现广告。但你可能并不知道,这些广告很多都不是预先设定的——广告主赢得这一广告位完全是在你点击和打开网页的1/4秒内,也就是几乎瞬间竞价的结果。

    随着通过实时竞价发布的互联网广告数量增势迅猛,谷歌(Google)已将实时竞价列为其广告体系的核心业务。但规模远小于谷歌的AppNexus却通过效仿谷歌,也已成为这一领域的领跑者。

    AppNexus的首席执行官兼共同创始人布莱恩•奥凯利最初设立该公司是为了拓宽他在Right Media【2007年该公司已售予雅虎(Yahoo)】开发的互联网广告交易平台,提供一个可兼容各类互联网广告交易软件平台的开放性市场。

    广告交易平台的建立是为了解决互联网广告销售面临的一个主要问题:由于买卖双方的时间不一定总能匹配,很多广告库存(即互联网广告位)白白浪费了。美国市场研究公司eMarketer的分析师劳伦•费希尔称,第一步是要汇总大批网站可供的广告库存。在此基础上,形成最基础的交易平台,扩大广告销售规模,由此,实时交易平台如今已成长为互联网广告行业新的有生力量。

    谷歌和AppNexus都一头扎进了这一领域,但两者的道路自然不太一样。奥凯利回忆称,他最早为AppNexus寻找投资者时,大部分硅谷风投公司还不怎么愿意投资总部位于纽约的初创企业——虽然AppNexus后来得到了“超级天使投资人”罗恩•康威、风险投资公司Venrock和First Round Capital以及其他方面的支持。相比之下,谷歌则拥有足够的内部资源来打造这块新业务,它凭借自身在互联网领域的广泛涉足和一些大刀阔斧的收购(从2007年收购网络广告服务商DoubleClick到去年收购在线广告平台Admeld),已在实时竞价领域实现了迅速扩张。

良性竞争

    但如果向广告科技界人士提起实时广告交易平台,你可能会同时听到这两家公司的名字。在谷歌展示广告副总裁尼尔•莫汉看来,实时广告交易平台是谷歌实现端对端广告解决方案的“关键一环”。据他介绍,谷歌交易平台去年增长了150%,其中不少销售额都来自谷歌网络以及DoubleClick等其他广告管理公司的客户。

    谷歌在互联网展示广告领域无所不在——许多在互联网广告细分领域与这个搜索巨头竞争的小公司本身也是谷歌的客户。莫汉称,谷歌的目标是要消除不同广告技术之间的摩擦,让这一过程对所有人都变得更加容易,哪怕他们有时候同时也是竞争对手。

    数字媒体交易公司MediaMath就是一家受益于谷歌“开放式”策略的公司,它提供的平台服务于希望购买广告位的营销人员,采用的供应商则包括谷歌、AppNexus等。MediaMath首席执行官乔•扎瓦德兹基称,AppNexus有望在谷歌擅长的开放式平台领域实现赶超。

    When you visit just about any website these days, ads appear as the site loads. But what you can't see is that many of those ads were not predestined for your eyes -- advertisers won the spots in near-instantaneous auctions occurring in the quarter of a second between click and use of the site.

    Real-time online advertising through such auctions is a rapidly growing business, and Google (GOOG) has made it a critical part of its advertising ecosystem. But the far smaller AppNexus has emerged as another leader by taking a page out of Google's playbook.

    AppNexus is a product of CEO and co-founder Brian O'Kelley's goal of broadening the online ad exchange platform that he developed with Right Media (which he sold to Yahoo (YHOO) in 2007) to offer an open market that works across the gamut of software platforms that companies use to buy and sell online ads.

    The ad exchange itself emerged to solve one of the major problems of online ad sales: much ad inventory (spaces where ads appear online) would go unsold as buyers and sellers couldn't always match up in time. The first step was for companies to aggregate their available ad across a swath of sites, says eMarketer analyst Lauren Fisher. From there, basic exchanges emerged, increasing the scale of ad sales, and real-time exchanges have become the latest turn of the wheel.

    Google and AppNexus both plunged into that space but, unsurprisingly, their paths have not been so similar. O'Kelley recalls that when he was first seeking investors for AppNexus, Silicon Valley venture capital was largely steering clear of New York-based startups -- although the company would receive backing from "super angel" Ron Conway, Venrock, First Round Capital, and others. Google, on the other hand, had the resources to build from within, and has grown rapidly in the advertising space thanks to its extensive reach on the web and some aggressive acquisitions, from DoubleClick in 2007 to Admeld last year.

Cordial competitors?

    But ask members of the ad tech space about real-time ad exchanges, and you'll probably hear both companies mentioned in the same breath. For Google, the exchange is "one key piece of the puzzle" in producing an end-to-end advertising solution, according to Neal Mohan, vice president of display advertising. Google's exchange has grown 150% in the last year, Mohan says, with much of the sales from within its own network and clients of other ad managers like DoubleClick.

    In online display ads, Google is everywhere -- and many small companies that compete with the search giant in one cross-section of the online ad world are themselves Google customers. Google's goal, Mohan says, is to cut out the friction between different ad technologies, making the process easier for everyone, even those sometime-competitors.

    One company that is taking advantage of Google's "open" approach is MediaMath, which offers a platform catered to marketers who want to buy ad space, using several suppliers including Google and AppNexus. MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki says that AppNexus might be beating Google at its own open-platform game.

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