Comcast Spotlight, the ad unit of Comcast, is heading into the world of programmatic advertising using a platform from Rubicon Project that will enable the company to support a private, automated exchange for display ads running on the Xfinity.com and XfinityTV.com Web sites.
“Ultimately, the system gives us the ability to grow scale with display advertisers and connect with buyers that represent leading global brands,” Tom Straszewski, vice president of interactive sales at Comcast Spotlight, said. “It enables us to step into the programmatic space with a premium display offering that allows some reach and scale for the advertising community as well.”
Although Comcast Spotlight is working with Rubicon Project to bring more efficient, programmatic capabilities that will enable buyers to buy Web display ad inventory directly through the private exchange or a real-time bidding process, it will continue to lean on traditional, direct sales as its primary method.
Inventory not sold through Comcast Spotlight’s direct selling team will be turned over to Rubicon Project’s Advertising Automation Cloud platform, where it will be offered on a private exchange that will give selected buyers a first look. Any inventory that remains will then go to a more open auction environment that will be run by Rubicon and other Comcast Spotlight partners.
Comcast Spotlight and Rubicon Project launched the new capability on June 3, and will focus on the initial two Comcast Web properties before looking to forge ahead on other sites or possibly on any of Comcast’s various mobile platforms.
“We need to work with Comcast to perfect that process first in our exchange environment,” Gregory Raifman, president of Rubicon Project, said. Before determining what might come next, a nearer term goal is to develop new relationships with programmatic buyers, added Straszewski.
Straszewski said it’s too early to know what percentage of the display ad inventory for both Xfinity.com, Comcast’s primary customer portal, and XfinityTV.com, which features authenticated TV Everywhere content, will be made available through the new automated system. Together those sites generate 25 million unique visitors per month and 1.7 billion page views per month, Straszewski said, citing comScore data.
The deal gets Rubicon Project, which counts Google as a prime competitor, into a direct relationship with the nation’s largest cable operator, complementing other big names on its client, which include Viacom, News Corp., Turner and eBay, as well as a range of top media buyers.
Los Angeles-based Rubicon Project claims to reach 97 % of U.S. Internet users per month, with its Advertising Automation Cloud processing 2.5 million queries per second and “trillions” of bids each month. The company, which went public in April, posted first quarter revenues of $23 million, up 39% from the year-ago quarter, paired with a net loss of $6.1 million.
Rubicon Project started with Web display advertising, but has since moved into mobile as well. A programmatic video product is in beta form now, with a launch anticipated for later this year, according to Raifman.
Elsewhere on the programmatic front, Comcast-owned FreeWheel announced last month that it will integrate Adap.tv’s programmatic reserved technology into its FourFronts marketplace as it prepares to help ad buyers and sellers test out Web-style automated advertising processes on online-delivered premium video. ABC announced at the Upfronts that it would test programmatic-style advertising throughout the summer using FreeWheel’s new FourFronts solution.