Editor's Note

The advent of sophisticated ad blockers has caused a war in the ad-serving marketplace. Facebook and one of the leading ad blocking applications have been changing their code almost daily to counter the others efforts. Some smaller companies do not have that luxury.



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RUBI - Rubicon Project - Company Profile

The Rubicon Project is a technology company that engages in automating the buying and selling of advertising. The company offers advertising automation platform that creates and powers a marketplace for buyers and sellers to readily buy and sell advertising at scale. Its advertising automation platform features applications for digital advertising sellers, including Websites, mobile applications, and other digital media properties to sell their advertising inventory; applications and services for buyers comprising advertisers, agencies, agency trading desks, demand side platforms, and ad networks to buy advertising inventory; and a marketplace over which such transactions are executed.

Unfortunately, the arrival of sophisticated ad blocking software has caused RUBI significant pain. The war to claim the space occupied by display advertising has gone nuclear. Facebook reported they had changed their advertising code to get past the largest ad blocker, AdBlock Plus. Only a day later AdBlock reported they had changed their code to counter the change by Facebook. The next day Facebook announced a new change followed by AdBlock announcing a new change, etc. This went on for nearly ten days and we still do not know who will be the winner. AdBlock has more than 200 million users of its blocking program.

For a small company like Rubicon, they are getting trampled by the giants as they race to make their blocking/serving software successful. In their Q2 earnings RUBI reported 17 cents and $65.1 million in revenue. That beat the street on both numbers. However, they warned that "the digital advertising market is undergoing changes that have fueled headwinds that we expect will continue the remainder of the year in desktop advertising."

They cut guidance for the current quarter from 12 cents and $70.2 million to 8 cents and $62 million. They cut full year guidance to 75-90 cents on revenue of $260-$275 million. That compared to a prior forecast of $275-$290 million. Consensus estimates were looking for 90 cents and $295 million.

Shares crashed from $14 to $9 on the guidance warning. After a minor rebound attempt they are heading lower again and closed at $9.05 on Monday and a historic low.

The outlook is not good for RUBI and their competitors. The ad blocking war is only going to grow more competitive and fewer ads are going to be served and that will impact revenue for quarters to come.

With a RUBI trade at $8.90

Short RUBI shares, initial stop loss $10.