AppNexus and AdMeld score high marks in a new Forrester evaluation of sell-side platforms - the class of ad vendors that provide yield optimization, ad serving, and other functions to online media sellers. The Wave report assesses the features, service quality, strategy, and market presence of six of these vendors.
The two firms shared top billing but for different reasons. Forrester credits AppNexus with flexibility and robust infrastructure, but notes it requires considerable technology and marketing chops to implement. In other words, it's an enterprise product. "Publishers looking for short-term simplicity need not apply," Forrester writes.
AdMeld meanwhile enjoys a competitive edge due to its early start in real-time bidding, the report finds. And while rivals have closed the gap on feature, AdMeld brings a valued service component that they don't. The company has another key advantage: It was acquired by Google last month (as Forrester's report was in process) and will get a bump from its inclusion in DoubleClick's publisher stack.
The two were closely followed by PubMatic and Rubicon Project, both praised for aptitude in yield optimization and data assimilation.
Right Media came in last of the six, with points docked for strategy, yield controls, and interface shortcomings. But Yahoo's ad exchange has what some SSPs don't: market penetration. The Yahoo-owned ad exchange services more than 300 clients, and employs more than 250 engineering and support staff - more than any other vendor profiled in the report.
But that wasn't enough to offset publisher concerns about declining customer service and slow adoption of key technologies such as real-time bidding, according to Forrester. Right Media was also penalized for the general disorientation at Yahoo, which is still hunting for a CEO and therefore presumed at a disadvantage when it comes to product development. In a sector evolving as rapidly as display advertising, that's a not-trivial handicap.
The sixth vendor, Google's DoubleClick AdExchange, declined to participate in the report, but Forrester ranked it anyway despite the limited access. The researcher designated it a "strong performer" based on client feedback and its willingness to accept a variety of ad formats (rich media, video and mobile), in contrast to Right Media's adherence to what Forrester calls "basic banner formats."
These six products are among the largest SSP's in the market, but others exist - for including LiftDNA and Improve Digital.
This was Forrester's second recent Wave report on the programmatic media buying landscape. In December, it conducted a similar evaluation of demand-side platforms. The big winners in that shoot-out were MediaMath, Turn, and DataXu.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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