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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。

    扎瓦德兹基称,像MediaMath这样的公司看重AppNexus的开放平台所提供的灵活性和便捷性,他们可以在AppNexus的平台上嵌入自己的软件。AppNexus的奥凯利表示,这些个性化服务是公司打造互联网广告交易平台的重要内容。最近AppNexus还推出了一个应用软件市场,通过该市场客户可以轻松地为AppNexus操控界面增加新功能,也可以将自己开发的应用软件授权给其他AppNexus用户。这些插件程序改善了功能性:比如,一个具有知识产权的竞价系统可以给出一些性能指标,帮助用户优化广告位的竞价过程;而一个收入管理系统可以帮助广告发布商了解何时以及如何销售互联网广告位,才能获取最大的利润。

    虽然谷歌的开放式策略效果一直不错——例如,上个月它就刚刚和Mozilla续签了火狐浏览器(Firefox)的搜索合同,尽管火狐是谷歌Chrome浏览器的竞争对手——奥凯利认为AppNexus应用软件对于小公司来说是最好用的,小公司不用支付高昂的开发费用,不必为广告流程的每个阶段购买不同的软件。如今,谷歌号称也能达到这样的水平。

共生共荣

    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。

    据巴切海姆称,微软没有选择和谷歌合作,也有竞争性因素考虑(“这说起来可能很有意思,”他笑着说)。但抛开微软和谷歌的对峙,AppNexus和谷歌仍是友好的竞争对手。谷歌的莫汉称,AppNexus是谷歌交易平台上的常客,两家公司在推动互联网广告发展方面也也有着一致的利益。

    据eMarketer的费希尔称,目前只有10%的互联网广告收入来自交易平台,因为很多公司的“高端”内容依然依赖传统销售团队,所谓“高端”内容即公司方面谨慎选择相关网站,且价格较高的广告。吸引更多高端广告进入实时竞价系统,对于交易平台的发展非常关键。谷歌的莫汉认为业界应该彻底抛弃“高端”的标签,如今的实时交易平台已经非常成熟,完全能照顾公司的广告发布需求,同时让市场决定广告的价格。

    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。

    “如今,全球互联网广告市场已达到250亿美元的规模,”莫汉称。“我们认为如果市场潜力得到充分释放,整个市场规模将增长至2,000亿美元。”如果谷歌和AppNexus能提高交易平台广告的总量占比,未来仍然有足够的市场空间容纳这两家公司的发展。

    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.

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