May 15th, 2018 marked the ten year anniversary of OpenX becoming incorporated in the U.S. This post is part of a series looking back at each of the ten years in the company’s history – Part 3 of 10

By 2010, the digital ad market reached an impressive milestone surpassing $10 billion, more than a 24% increase from the previous year — and the opportunity digital presented to both buyers and sellers was becoming clear. It was also the year Uber was founded (did anyone Uber in 2010?!), the year the ‘long-awaited’ Google phone launched, and most importantly, it was the year OpenX began to differentiate and grow in the market.

After launching the industry’s first real-time programmatic ad exchange in 2009,  OpenX was finally seeing revenue start to accelerate, yet it was still relatively slow growth. While the larger industry began to realize that the technology had real potential to solve for many of the inefficiencies of media buying, the shift to programmatic was not occuring as fast as the company had hoped. The 3X weekly “raggedy red couch” OpenX Market stand-up meetings continued, each meeting filled with team members reviewing tactics and sales planning aimed at accelerating market adoption and growth.

In a sense, the company was going through an identity crisis, an experience common to many startups. Was OpenX an ad-serving company or an ad exchange, and how much would the business rely on open source customers?

As this decision was being made and the new business model prioritizing high quality publishers was being rolled out, another curveball came… Google introduced their own ad exchange through the acquisition of DoubleClick.

While this posed real threats, “Real-time” bidding still didn’t exist and ad networks were still buying inventory on an analog system rather than at an impression-by-impression basis. So when one of OpenX’s early partners, Fox Audience Network, wanted to co-innovate around a new real-time bidding concept, OpenX seized the opportunity.

Three months later, OpenX launched the world’s first Real Time Bidding, or “programmatic”, ad exchange. Even without a high-profile product launch event and no guarantee that this gamble would pay off, this innovation would forever change the digital advertising industry and unleash eight straight years of strong growth for OpenX.

By 2010, the digital ad market reached an impressive milestone surpassing $10 billion, more than a 24% increase from the previous year — and the opportunity digital presented to both buyers and sellers was becoming clear.