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Rubicon Project holds lead among competitors in advertising technology

Digital advertising firm Rubicon Project's numbers show promise, but it's still looking to turn a profit

In the fragmented and competitive world of digital advertising, a Playa Vista company is putting up some impressive numbers but still looking to turn a profit.

The Rubicon Project Inc. specializes in optimizing digital advertising placement, offering customers the ability to buy and sell advertising in real-time bidding auctions.

In some respects, the company is doing well. It was ranked highest globally in November among the top ad networks and platforms, reaching 544.3 million viewers, according to Quantcast, the San Francisco digital measurement firm.

With slightly more than 3 billion on the Internet as of November, according to various groups, that's like reaching more than 18% of online users.

Company President Gregory R. Raifman said that the first ranking on the Quantcast list "is proof that Rubicon Project is the top choice for those who seek unprecedented global reach and scale."

In October, the company announced that its third-quarter revenue climbed 60% to $32.2 million, compared with $20.1 million a year earlier. But Rubicon reported a net loss of $4.6 million for the third quarter, only a slight improvement over the loss of $4.9 million a year earlier.

The Rubicon Project's secret sauce, the company says, was the engineering of its Advertising Automation Cloud, which it says is "one of the largest real-time cloud and Big Data computing systems."

The company is the latest from serial entrepreneur Frank Addante, 38, who has been chief executive of the firm since its start in 2007.

Rubicon "is not just about online advertising," Addante said. "We do advertising on computers and mobile devices. We do video advertising."

"Our vision is to automate all advertising, including television, digital billboards. I've even seen an advertisement on a faucet a couple of months ago."

Addante founded the company with the help of $52.6 million in venture capital funding.

By age 30, Addante had already started four companies before the Rubicon Project.

The latest

In December, the Rubicon Project was named one of the top global platforms on Pixalate's Global Seller Trust Index.

In November, Apple chose the Rubicon Project to help with its iAd adoption of automated advertising.

Also in November, the company said it was acquiring fellow ad tech providers iSocket and Shiny Ads for less than $30 million for the two companies, mostly in stock.

Accomplishments

The November Quantcast rankings showed the Rubicon Project with a large lead over its top competitors. OpenX Ad Exchange came in second, reaching 466.7 million people. Adblade was third with 446.8 million. The companies Sovrn and SpotXchange Video Advertising Platform rounded out the top five with 423.2 million and 421.7 million, respectively.

Challenges

Through the nine months that ended Sept. 30, the Rubicon Project reported a net loss of $20.1 million, more than double the $9.2 million it reported for the same period in 2013.

The Rubicon Project also faces a broad array of fast-growing competitors, including WebSpectator, SpotXchange and Burst Media.

Analysts

Of the five analysts who regularly follow the Rubicon Project, one rates it a strong buy. Three others suggest buying the stock and one suggests holding it.

Among those suggesting a buy is B. Riley & Co. analyst Sameet Sinha, who expects the stock to climb to $21 a share in the coming weeks.

ron.white@latimes.com

Twitter: @RonWLATimes

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