Publishers See 20 Percent Lift in 2011 Display Ad Revenue Due to RTB, According to Global Online Advertising Research by the Rubicon Project

Nearly half of digital publishers sell inventory via RTB and two thirds through advertising networks; 40% of publishers report higher rate card prices vs. 2009

LOS ANGELES – Online publishing is thriving according to global research by Econsultancy and the Rubicon Project published today, with 73% of publishers saying online display advertising revenue has gone up in last year. Nearly half of publishers (44%) now sell their online display advertising via real-time bidding (RTB), which itself is delivering twenty percent more revenue to publishers. The research also found that two thirds (66%) of publishers sell inventory through online advertising networks.

the Rubicon Project, the US-based advertising technology company, commissioned Econsultancy to survey more than 1,000 internet advertising professionals, including nearly 500 online publishers, sales houses and rep firms, in August and September 2011. The survey follows the publication of a companion report which delivered analysis of similar questions to advertisers and agencies.

Increasing Revenue for Publishers

– The vast majority of publishers surveyed say that their rate card prices have either gone up since last year (40%) or stayed the same (46%). Only 14% of respondents say pricing has decreased. Direct-sold premium inventory accounts for 55% of sales volume, delivering 67% of revenue for publishers (this number is somewhat lower in the US, where 50% of inventory is sold by direct sales team and accounts for 62% of revenue).
– Publishers in the United States are more likely than their European counterparts to say that rate card prices have gone up in the last year (46% of US respondents compared to 36% in Europe).

A similar survey in 2009 found that only 53% of publishers had enjoyed increased display advertising revenues over the previous year. The research shows that supply-side platforms are playing a prominent role in the online advertising ecosystem where real-time bidding is becoming increasingly prevalent. Publishers cite the main benefits of working with supply-side platforms as the ability to open up inventory to RTB (58%), incremental revenue (54%) and extraction of greater value from inventory (48%).

Impact of RTB; growth of Private Marketplaces

– On average, real-time bidding has given publishers 20% uplift on their remnant display ad revenue.
– One in 10 publishers say they have established a private marketplace, and further 35% say they are planning to.
– More than three quarters (78%) of publishers with private exchanges say that this has resulted in demonstrable revenue and a positive lift on yield.

“The truth is in the data, and this report shows that RTB represents a watershed moment for publishers around the globe. RTB is having a positive impact on publishers’ cross-channel monetization strategy, and aligns squarely with the value advertisers are gaining,” said Kara Weber, SVP of Marketing at the Rubicon Project. “We predict that 2012 will mark the confluence of two key trends: a massive influx of new dollars coming online, accompanied and powered by RTB and the broader burst of innovation around the automation of digital ad buying and selling. And most importantly, publishers who leverage a single platform to control access to their inventory, and monetize that asset across all buying channels, can ensure that every impression is sold for the highest possible price.”

The Role of Online Advertising Networks

Econsultancy also surveyed online advertising networks around the world and discovered that 37% of online advertising networks are using RTB for both buying and selling inventory. Around a third (31%) are using RTB just for buying, while 7% are using real-time bidding just for selling. 60% of the ad networks surveyed revealed they buy inventory from other ad networks and 60% buy from online advertising exchanges.

For publishers working with ad networks:

– Three-quarters (74%) of US publishers sell through ad networks, compared to 61% in Europe.
A third (33%) of publishers say they work with more ad networks than a year ago, but 28% work with fewer ad networks.
– On average, globally, 42% of display inventory goes to ad networks, increasing to 51% for the US but decreasing to 34% for Europe.
– On average, globally, 35% of display advertising revenue comes from ad networks (42% in North America and 27% in Europe), up from 33% in 2009.
– One third of pubs do not work with advertising nets and the challenges faced when working with them have increased. One third of all publishers consider channel conflict and data leakage as problems.

Linus Gregoriadis, Econsultancy’s Research Director, added, “This research shows a positive commercial environment for publishers globally, with rate card prices holding steady or increasing for the vast majority of responding companies. Real-time bidding is creating opportunities for publishers who are having to adapt quickly to a fast-changing environment. Ad networks and exchanges continue to play an important role, while supply-side platforms are becoming increasingly influential in the marketplace.”

“The research also looks at how publishers are reacting to data privacy legislation, with half of respondents saying they are worried about changes relating to the use of cookies. Worryingly, a significant proportion of publishers (21%) have a poor understanding of data privacy law and its implications.”

This is Econsultancy’s second Online Publishers Survey Report, produced in association with the Rubicon Project. The study, supported by the IAB UK, IAB France, IAB Europe and AOP, follows a similar piece of research carried out in 2009 and is based on a survey of over 1,000 online advertising professionals carried out in August and September 2011. This report is specifically focused on results from almost 500 publishers around the world. A copy of the full report is available for download from here.

About the Rubicon Project

the Rubicon Project launched in 2007 with a mission to automate buying and selling across the $65 billion global online advertising industry. Powered by data-driven algorithms and pricing intelligence data, REVV, the company’s yield optimization platform, has optimized nearly two trillion ad transactions for more than 450 of the largest properties on the Internet. REVV helps premium Web publishers like Time Inc., News International and CareerBuilder make more money by optimizing their ad space, eliminating unnecessary ad operations costs and protecting their brands. The platform powers the REVV Marketplace, the world’s largest premium display advertising marketplace. More than 650 ad networks, exchanges and DSPs access premium inventory and audiences through the REVV Marketplace and its unparalleled reach of more than 575 million unique users. Headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in New York, Seattle, London, Paris, Hamburg and Sydney, the company is backed by $60 million in funding from Clearstone Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund, IDG Ventures Asia, Comcast Ventures and News Corporation.

About Econsultancy

Econsultancy is a digital publishing and training group used by more than 200,000 Internet professionals every month. Econsultancy has offices in New York and London, and hosts more than 100 events every year in the US and UK. Many of the world’s most famous brands use Econsultancy to educate and train their staff.