PubMatic’s CEO on Going Public Throughout a 12 months of Change in Advert Tech

Rajeev Goel, co-founder and CEO of PubMatic, practically rang the Nasdaq opening bell on Wednesday morning as his 14-year-old company began trading in public markets.

The supply-side platform went public during a whirlwind year for the advertising industry. Pandemic aside, Google Chrome and Apple, the gatekeepers of the internet, are putting third-party cookies and IDFAs off their market-leading platforms, fundamentally changing the way targeted online advertising works.

Adweek spoke to Goel about these changes and PubMatic’s plans.

This interview has been edited for the sake of clarity and brevity.

Adweek: As mentioned in your S-1, Verizon Media is by far your largest delivery partner. Google and The Trade Desk are your great demand-side partners. Are you reducing your dependency on just a few players?

Rajeev Goel: Since our overall business is growing very quickly, we assume that concentration will decrease over time. The next largest customer is in the range of 2% to 3%. So it really is Verizon, but given that this is the biggest opportunity for us, we think they are reasonably represented as a percentage of our business.

(For the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019, and the nine months ended September 30, 2019 and 2020, Verizon Media made 30%, 28%, 29% and 21%, respectively, of PubMatic revenue from ad impressions from Verizon Media sold in the frame A 10-year deal signed a large portion of Microsoft’s digital ad inventory in 2015, meaning Verizon Media is the third and fifth most popular websites in the US according to Comscore.)

Can you talk about how the leakage of third party cookies and IDFAs is affecting PubMatic’s business?

We not only work with The Trade Desk, a Unified ID 2.0, but also with LiveRamp and about a dozen other providers of identity solutions. And we have a product out there called the Identity Hub, one of our fastest growing product launches of all time, which makes it very easy for publishers to work with all of these different identity solutions.

Do you really expect many users on the open web to log into every website they visit? And what do you do with the rest of the open web that is unauthenticated and yet anonymous?

I think with trustworthy properties, the leader, users will sign up to unlock free content. We are built on the head of the internet with Comscore 2000 publishers around the world. So we feel well positioned where this identity transition will take place.

Which would be more effective for your company: third party cookies disappear or IDFAs disappear?

I think the cookie is a broader part of our business today. Within Mobile we have both Mobile App and Mobile Web. Mobile together makes up 55% of our business. IDFA is obviously an app platform. There’s Android. We believe the impact of IDFA is relatively small.

We also saw, and thus learned from GDPR, that most large advertisers, especially on the brand side, do not cut budgets in the short term. What happens is they swap their budgets into the channels that work for them too. For example, when the IDFA change happens, I believe that there will be more bids for Android users, more bids for the mobile web, more bids for connected TV and digital video users

CTV is a rapidly growing space that is attracting a lot of attention. PubMatic has invested in building products for the room. How much of PubMatic’s sales will CTV make in five years?

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