AppNexus Unveils ‘App Marketplace,’ a Dashboard for Display Ad Buys

AppNexus, a key Microsoft partner and operator of the largest real-time bidding marketplace, has launched a platform for media buyers to access “apps” from a menu of ad tech vendors.

Starting tomorrow, buyers – be they agencies, ad networks, or enterprise marketers – can access the company’s new App Marketplace to assemble media buys using capabilities from eight companies. Those companies are data vendors eXelate, Brilig, and Lotame; contextual vendors Proximic and uKnow; offline/online data firm TARGUSinfo; and privacy icon enablement vendors Evidon and TRUSTe. Other firms with apps in development include Crystal Semantics, BlueKai, and Peer39. And AppNexus says that’s just the beginning.

On its surface, the value to marketers is similar to what’s already on offer from demand-side platforms like Turn, MediaMath, Google-owned Invite Media, and DataXu. These companies also promise to let agencies and advertisers easily work with third-party data providers, targeting technologies, and inventory sources.

Part of the difference with AppNexus’s platform, according to the company, comes down to openness. It resides on the ad server, uses APIs, and anyone can build on it (though there’s no guarantee AppNexus will approve an app). “You’d expect rich media providers, video providers, really anyone who sells to the same customers we do should be able to plug in and save those customers steps, improve the workflow, improve efficiency, and otherwise unite the ecosystem,” Ari Paparo, SVP of product, told ClickZ at the AppNexus Summit in New York this morning.

Meanwhile ad tech companies can refine and customize the user experience more than they can with a DSP; they can build apps that look nice, are responsive, and reduce steps for advertisers. “They’re able to help their common customers to figure out what they want to buy and reflect that in their own way, and thereby not be commoditized and disintermediated,” said Paparo. In a similar vein, AppNexus CTO Mike Nolet said the App Marketplace will provide a means for ad technology firms to focus on what they do best, rather than feel pressure to build standalone ad networks around their targeting technologies. “Pure technology companies are struggling,” Nolet said. “It’s a lot of work to sell technology. As a result, a lot of companies package technology together with media.”

Proximic CEO Phillipp Pieper demonstrated how his company’s app can be used to build custom category segments and get a real-time view of available inventory. He showed how a search for “fishing” turns up custom categories such as “fly fishing” and “traditional fishing” that together match to 146,000 impressions.

“By choosing segment characteristics you can see in real time how much inventory goes against it,” he said.

And what would it take for AppNexus to reject an app? Paparo said, “If it doesn’t serve any useful purpose, or if it encourages people to buy or sell inventory through another system.”

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