[by Douglas Diehl]
On the evening of Tuesday January 26, Princeton Innovation visited AppNexus, a global online advertising company. AppNexus boasts the world’s leading independent ad tech platform. During the visit, we had the opportunity to hear from three AppNexus employees who gave us an overview of the company. They explained the process of real-time bidding that takes place in an electronic platform in fractions of seconds.
For example, when you visit a website, it is possible that AppNexus mediated the bidding process for the advertisements you will most likely see. I personally had never thought too much about where the advertisements on the page come from, or how multifaceted and coordinated the process must be. The size of the advertisement must be taken into account, the preferences of the viewer, and the highest bidder is able to win.
Additionally, we learned that without advertisements, many companies would be unable to run their content online for free, content that we would not like to pay for and that we just assume is free. Yet, business that have online presences use advertisement space as a way to bring in capital that keeps websites operating. I also enjoyed a brief discussion on ad blockers, because it appears that there are differing perspectives on the matter. On the one hand, an employee at AppNexus explained the viewpoint that ad blockers are bad for the Internet in general. On the other hand, an employee at Google, a competitor in this industry, held the position that ad blockers are a response to the uncontrolled flow of ads that take over computer screens and adversely affect the visitors’ online website viewing experience.
A particularly nice part of the visit was a complete tour of AppNexus’s floors. From the lobby entrance to the building, quite small and unimpressive, the floors stood in stark contrast; they were impressive and grand. In addition to large open concept workspaces, AppNexus had historic elevators, a comfortable library, an auditorium space, and a basketball court. Additionally, it was interesting to see a timeline of AppNexus on the wall of one of their floors, which detailed all of the accomplishments of the company. Lastly, AppNexus graciously hosted a Princeton Innovation alumni reception on their main floor, which enjoyed many dynamic conversations and provided a greater idea of the varied fields of Princeton alumni in science fields.