Rocket Fuel latest programmatic ad tech vendor to come to Australia

Digital advertising technology vendor confirms appointment of former eBay advertising chief, JJ Eastwood, as new local leader as it highlights Australia's growing RTB market

Yet another programmatic advertising vendor is bringing its technology smarts to Australia as demand for real-time and automated digital advertising solutions continues.

Rocket Fuel, a US-based and publicly listed company founded in 2008, confirmed its intention to expand into the Asia-Pacific region with a new office in Sydney this week. The company provides a programmatic media buying platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) and big data that can be used across digital display, video, mobile and social channels.

The local office will include full local support and focus on delivering managed and self-service programmatic solutions. It will be headed by former eBay head of advertising in A/NZ, JJ Eastwood. A company spokesperson told CMO it has also appointed a group sales director, group sales manager and senior account director.

“Programmatic has grown exponentially in Australia in the last 12 months, so we’re looking forward to building upon this momentum and providing full support for clients in the region,” Eastwood said in a statement.

Target customers include media agencies, large direct clients and brands wishing to bring their programmatic initiatives in-house, the spokesperson said.

Rocket Fuel chairman and CEO, George John, said Eastwood’s role in implementing a fully programmatic advertising sales strategy at eBay in partnership with Google and Mi9, along with his technology credentials, made him a good candidate for expanding Rocket Fuel’s presence in the region.

Rocket Fuel continues to chalk up strong growth, reporting revenue of $92.6m for the second quarter of 2014 to 30 June, up 70 per cent year-on-year. Gross profit also increased by 80 per cent to $45.7m, although the company did report a net loss of $9.8m over the same period.

The company claims to have more than 500 brands using its technology including Birds Eye, Sixt, Lufthansa, Toshiba, Bridgestone and Brooks Running Company. Its competitors include display advertising players such as doubleclick, Brandscreen and Neustar, along with data management platforms (DMPs).

Last month, Rocket Fuel acquired DMP vendor, [X+1], for US$230 million. At the time, John said the purchase will give Rocket Fuel the ability to expand its portfolio of solutions to a larger market and offer better marketing ROI to customers through utilising their own, as well as third-party data. [X+1]’s competitors include BlueKai (now owned by Oracle), Turn and MediaMath.

Related: Programmatic advertising: Digital marketing’s saviour or real-time headache?

“The powerful combination of [X+1]’s marketing and data management platform with our leading artificial intelligence and big data drive optimisation technology opens the door for new, innovative opportunities to improve marketing ROI for our customers,” he stated. “We are strengthening our competitive position while significantly increasing our total addressable market and ability to deliver SaaS-based multi-channel solutions to advertising agencies and enterprise customers.”

According to IDC, Australian spending on real-time bidding (RTB) was $74m in 2013, representing 9 per cent of total display ad sales. This was an increase of 105 per cent on 2012. Total RTB expenditure is expected to rise to $278m by 2017.

In the latest media statement, digital director at media agency Media Circus, Sophie Paulin, said it had run its first campaign out of Australia with Rocket Fuel already after the success of similar programs run by its London-based partners.

"As supply-side vendors have expanded within the market in recent years, the opening of Rocket Fuel's Sydney office will provide us with an excellent opportunity to buy this inventory at scale," she stated.

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