Rubicon Project delivered a strong end to 2019 by increasing Q4 revenue by 17% to $48.5 million, the top end of its guidance to investors.
The exchange also highlighted its growth in video as it prepares to close its merger with Telaria in early April.
Video revenue soared 43% to $28.6 million in 2019. Video currently accounts for 18% of Rubicon Project’s revenue, but that proportion will expand to roughly 50% once Rubicon merges with Telaria.
“We feel strongly that video will be a long-term growth engine,” Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett said.
While Telaria’s strength is CTV, Rubicon built expertise in mobile and web video. With Telaria’s mobile and web businesses in decline, the companies will seek efficiencies in those areas post-merger, Barrett told investors.
Rubicon Project expects Demand Manager, its managed version of Prebid, to contribute $5 million in revenue in 2020; revenue for 2019 wasn’t material.
Demand Manager offers publishers optimization tools, analytics and a user interface that makes it easier to manage their open-source Prebid setups.
At the end of the year, 86 publishers had live contracts with Demand Manager. They pay on a percentage of media or CPM basis.
The Demand Manager tech is being further improved by the influx of engineering talent from the October acquisition of RTK.io. And Barrett predicted Wednesday that as Prebid goes server-side and is used across mobile app and video, Rubicon can earn more from this product. Plus, the added complexity of server-side header bidding will make Demand Manager more appealing both to smaller publishers with few resources and enterprise-level publishers.
Publisher clients include Univision, AutoTrader, Business Insider, IHeart, Discovery, Everyday Health, Publishers Clearing House and Redbox.
The post-cookie future
A world without third-party cookies won’t negatively impact Rubicon Project, Barrett said.
The exchange is already mostly buying without cookies, he said. Two-thirds of inventory already lives in a “cookieless world” where the company helps buyers figure out how to monetize their inventory without them, he said.
Plus, advertising budgets are stable, Barrett said. So advertisers simply spend budgets in cookieless inventory, where they pay less for media to compensate for the decrease in data. “They can just acquire more media as it decreases in value,” Barrett said, referring to how buyers are adapting to cookieless digital advertising.
Though there are many possibilities for working around cookie loss, Barrett is most interested in solutions that elevate publisher data.
“I think it’s a very interesting time to be an agent of the publisher,” he said, predicting a future where the publisher must secure the consent of their readers and viewers to enable programmatic advertising.
“We think we’re in a good position to help the open web, publishers and the buying community.”