Hello (again), we’re PubX.
This article was supposed to be our 'Hello World' piece back in 2020, but (for reasons that will become clear) we wanted to wait to ship our product and develop the PubX publisher community before hitting the Publish button.
Now, the time feels right to share our perspective on the industry landscape, the PubX mission/vision and what we’ve been working on for the last 2 years.
We’re truly excited to be in a position to share a POV on events in the publisher ecosystem - expect a more frequent stream of PubX perspectives, product updates and deep dives into topics that are important to our mission moving forward!
Everything Has Changed, Nothing Has Changed
The events of the last few years have been nothing short of seismic. The tightening of privacy policies and the onset of a cookieless world (served with a generous portion of erratic pandemic ad spends) have impacted everyone in the industry.
Publishers have arguably been hit hardest, and remain under-served by AI & automation practices that are widely used on the buy-side. The gap is pronounced in the field of pricing, making it challenging for publishers to ascertain their true market value - resulting in consistently lower yields on their inventory.
Pair this with the downward pressure from brands and their media agencies, and you have a situation fast approaching a crisis.
In short: the world has changed, but much remains the same in ad-tech.
Independent publishers provide a massive amount of positive utility.
The presence of trustworthy, authoritative news sites are what makes democracy, freedom of speech and parsing out fake news possible, and all publishers - no matter how big or small - contribute to keeping the Internet free.
Publishers are the essential component to the attention supply chain - a statement that is not reflected in their access to the distribution of technology & investment within the advertising industry - and the forgotten hero of the ad-tech ecosystem.
Our vision is simple yet ambitious: To build the future for digital publishers.
This means building better tech with publishers; creating a better future for publishers; and helping to save the Open Web before it’s too late.
(For a truly excellent overview/analysis of our current age of disruption/disinformation, read up on Edwin Wong’s 2-parter for Vox Media here)
The Open Web
If our last passage sounds earnest, that’s because it is. Embracing the values and principles of the Open Web translates to a better, more relevant advertising experience for everyone, and one where the publisher ecosystem is permitted to flourish.
Picture this: an attention economy that prizes the role of the publisher, and one in which access to tools and solutions (co-created with the main beneficiaries!) is democratized.
We launched the beta version of our dynamic price flooring tool and opened the doors to our publisher community in 2020.
Since then, we’ve spoken with hundreds of publishers to build a detailed cross-section of the community’s common pain points and challenges.
There are 2 main reasons for taking this approach:
Having spent most of our careers developing & scaling adtech products on the buy-side, our team feels a collective responsibility to level the playing field for publishers.
We wanted PubX’s tool stack to solve real problems for publishers - hence the move to create a continuous feedback loop built around real conversations, thus forging genuine connections with the community. After all, there's little value in solving an imagined problem!
We believe that this is the fastest way to create impact (by addressing issues in the here and now) and the smartest way to build the foundations for a permanent shift in the status quo.
As we wrap up (hopefully for less time than the 2 years it took to pull together this article), we want to spend some time thinking about the lessons we’ve learnt so far.
We know that there is immense potential for publishers to grow, and that the road ahead will be tough - after all, addressing the tech imbalances in our industry is a bigger problem than one tool can solve.
Luckily, we’re in this for the long haul - and are more determined than ever to work with publishers to develop an ecosystem (and maybe even a new product category….) that positions publishers as the hero we always knew we needed.
We’re excited to be on this journey, but even more excited to be building a better, fairer ecosystem for all.