By Alex Konrad, reporter
FORTUNE -- When you visit just about any website these days, ads appear as the site loads. But what you can't see is that many of those ads were not predestined for your eyes -- advertisers won the spots in near-instantaneous auctions occurring in the quarter of a second between click and use of the site.
Real-time online advertising through such auctions is a rapidly growing business, and Google (GOOG) has made it a critical part of its advertising ecosystem. But the far smaller AppNexus has emerged as another leader by taking a page out of Google's playbook.
AppNexus is a product of CEO and co-founder Brian O'Kelley's goal of broadening the online ad exchange platform that he developed with Right Media (which he sold to Yahoo (YHOO) in 2007) to offer an open market that works across the gamut of software platforms that companies use to buy and sell online ads.
The ad exchange itself emerged to solve one of the major problems of online ad sales: much ad inventory (spaces where ads appear online) would go unsold as buyers and sellers couldn't always match up in time. The first step was for companies to aggregate their available ad across a swath of sites, says eMarketer analyst Lauren Fisher. From there, basic exchanges emerged, increasing the scale of ad sales, and real-time exchanges have become the latest turn of the wheel.
Google and AppNexus both plunged into that space but, unsurprisingly, their paths have not been so similar. O'Kelley recalls that when he was first seeking investors for AppNexus, Silicon Valley venture capital was largely steering clear of New York-based startups -- although the company would receive backing from "super angel" Ron Conway, Venrock, First Round Capital, and others. Google, on the other hand, had the resources to build from within, and has grown rapidly in the advertising space thanks to its extensive reach on the web and some aggressive acquisitions, from DoubleClick in 2007 to Admeld last year.
But ask members of the ad tech space about real-time ad exchanges, and you'll probably hear both companies mentioned in the same breath. For Google, the exchange is "one key piece of the puzzle" in producing an end-to-end advertising solution, according to Neal Mohan, vice president of display advertising. Google's exchange has grown 150% in the last year, Mohan says, with much of the sales from within its own network and clients of other ad managers like DoubleClick. More
The rapidly growing social network held a so-called State of the Union to reveal new stats about its ongoing rise.
FORTUNE -- This week, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo hosted a small gathering at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco to give a brief update on the social network's growth. His self-described "State of the Union" highlighted a number of new user stats. The overall message? That Twitter thinks it is in a MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 8, 2011 2:56 PM ET
A radical corporate restructuring, borrowing a Japanese idea, could help Google instill a permanent culture of innovation, and stave off Microsoft-style stagnation.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE -- What is it going to take for Google to get its mojo back? Google in the spring of 2011 is a far cry from Google in its startup days. Facing competition from younger companies like Facebook, Google is spending more to hire new talent, MOREApr 18, 2011 11:56 AM ET
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Daily deals site LivingSocial, which has made a splash over the last few months with half-off deals from Amazon and Fandango, just clinched $400 million in funding from existing investors like Lightspeed Venture Partners and Amazon, at a valuation of $3 billion. (Wall Street Journal)
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO MORE
A curated selection of the weekend's most newsworthy tech stories from all over the Web. Sign up to get the newsletter delivered to you everyday.
AOL closed its $315 million acquisition of The Huffington Post just one month after it was announced. Site founder Arianna Huffington will serve as AOL's President and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, which includes all of the company's media properties. The deal should MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 7, 2011 7:55 AM ET
A curated selection of the day's most newsworthy tech stories from all over the Web.
Next week, Facebook, which is on track to reach sales of $2 billion this year, will release a new facial recognition feature called Tag Suggestions that automatically suggests who users should tag in photos. Whenever users choose to tag people in their photos, Tag Suggestions will step in and offer up suggestions about who the friends in MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Dec 16, 2010 8:17 AM ET
A new simplified space for creating geo-targeted ads might be just the ticket to get small business owners on to Google's ad platform.
Once a small business stakes its claim in Google's (GOOG) Places directory, they show up on Google's Maps search and in other geo-targeted results displays. But if they want to increase the chances of being found, Google has a new solution: Boost.
Boost is a simple way for businesses MORESeth Weintraub - Oct 26, 2010 4:04 PM ET
Anonymous analysts who spoke to the New York Times think so.
It is hard to discern whether YouTube is making a profit, because Google (GOOG) doesn't break its numbers out separately from its other ad-driven properties, at least not yet. It is also hard to quantify what is a YouTube sale and what is a Doubleclick sale because Google uses one unit of the company to make money off another.
So how are spots that advertise MORESeth Weintraub - Sep 3, 2010 6:54 PM ET
Yes, the company is still growing at rates that would be the envy of the rest of the Fortune 500. But its core business is slowing, its stock is down, its Android mobile platform generates scant revenue, and competition (hello, Facebook) is fierce. Can Google find its footing in this brave new world?
By Michael V. Copeland with Seth Weintraub
Stroll across the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., and you are confronted MOREJul 29, 2010 6:00 AM ET
Rajeev Goel, CEO of upstart PubMatic, thinks his company can help print publishers recapture advertising revenue from their glory days.
Print media is dead! Yawn.
You'd think media analysts and bloggers would find another catchphrase. This executioner's call is as tired as Jon and Kate's tabloid tussles.
So when Rajeev Goel, co-founder and CEO of PubMatic, told me that not only would print publications survive, but he knew how they could, he definitely got MOREKim Thai, contributor - Nov 4, 2009 6:00 AM ET
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