当然，AppNexus自己也有一些强大的合作伙伴（和影响力）。微软（Microsoft）采用AppNexus作为从MSN到Xbox Live Marketplace所有平台的广告竞价工具。“AppNexus给这一领域带来了新颖有趣的解决方案，”微软负责Atlas和其他广告业务的总经理丹尼斯•巴切海姆表示。
这样的商机促使AppNexus的投资者——Venrock的迈克•泰瑞尔乐观地期待，终有一天将有90%的互联网展示广告通过交易平台出售。费希尔对此有所保留，但她也相信会出现显著增长。它将涉及几十亿美元的市场，美国互动广告局（Interactive Advertising Bureau）和普华永道（PwC）的一份报告显示，2011年第三季度互联网广告收入同比增长了22%，已经接近80亿美元。
According to Zawadzki, companies such as MediaMath value the flexibility of AppNexus' open platform and the ease in which they can add their own additional software on top. At AppNexus, O'Kelley says such customization is part of the company's goal of creating an online ad infrastructure. The company recently launched an application marketplace through which companies can easily add functions to their AppNexus consoles and license out apps they build to other AppNexus clients. Those plug-ins improve functionality: a proprietary bidding system, for example, gives users performance metrics so they can refine how they bid on ad spaces; a yield management system, meanwhile, makes it easier for publishers to know when and how to sell their online ad space for the most profit.
Though Google's open stewardship has a fairly strong track record -- take its recent renewal of its search contract with Mozilla last month for Firefox, a rival to Google's Chrome browser -- O'Kelley sees the AppNexus applications as the easiest to use for the little guy, saving small companies prohibitive development costs without having to buy a different proprietary product for every step in the advertising process, as Google now has the clout to offer.
Not exactly a 'David' to Google's 'Goliath'
To be sure, AppNexus has gained some powerful partners (and clout) of its own. Microsoft (MSFT) uses AppNexus as its vehicle for ad bidding across all of its platforms, from MSN to the Xbox Live Marketplace. "AppNexus has taken a really interesting approach to this business," says Dennis Buchheim, general manager of scale display for Microsoft Advertising.
According to Buchheim, there were also competitive reasons why Microsoft didn't team up with Google instead ("that would have been interesting to say the least," he says with a laugh). But any rivalry between Redmond and Mountain View aside, AppNexus and Google remain cordial competitors. Google's Mohan notes that AppNexus is a regular buyer on the Google exchange, and the companies are on the same team when it comes to promoting growth for online advertising as a field.
According to Fisher at eMarketer, only 10% of online ad revenue comes through exchanges right now as many companies rely on traditional sales teams for their "premium" content, ads that companies are careful to associate only with certain sites and come at a higher price. Opening up more premium ads to real-time sales could be critical to the growth of the exchanges. Mohan at Google thinks the "premium" label should be abolished entirely, arguing that real-time exchanges are sophisticated enough now to take a company's ad placement concerns into account while letting the market determine an ad's value.
Such opportunity leads AppNexus investor Mike Tyrrell at Venrock to bullishly predict a day when 90% of online display ads are sold through exchanges. Fisher is skeptical, but she also foresees significant growth. Billions are at stake, with online advertising revenues up 22% year-to-year to almost $8 billion in the third quarter of 2011, according to a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC.
"The online ad market is $25 billion globally today," Mohan says. "We think it can grow to $200 billion if its potential is realized." If Google and AppNexus can bring a growing percentage of that pot through the ad exchanges, there's more than enough room in the sandbox for two.