Well it's pretty clear where the market's headed now, wouldn't you say?
I've always described the "holy grail" for publishers is a platform that would systematically identify each individual impression's value, respective to business rules that mirror relationships. If you sold a campaign yourself, it's important to deliver it evenly, in full, and that it performs well so you can grow that relationship with the buyer. If you're opening up inventory to 3rd-party buyers, it's important that you reach all possible demand out there, control what comes through, and minimize cost whether monetary or by latency affecting user experience. A simplistic outline of revenue objectives, but I'd say the above covers 90% of any major ad-related revenue initiative. With the above in mind, the single goal -- make as much money as possible.
Recently OpenX, an ad server and exchange, has acquired LiftDNA, a small startup yield optimization company. While this new combo of services points in a more focused direction, the reality is that you're going to have to use their server as well, a much larger business decision and migration.
Last week, PubMatic announced the launch of PubDirect, the first publisher-focused and server-agnostic platform that maximizes yield across a publisher's entire revenue strategy whether guaranteed or non-guaranteed demand.
2012 is going to be an exciting year and it'll be interesting how everything plays out. The convergence of direct/indirect or guaranteed/non-guaranteed makes a lot of sense and publishers have been asking for this beyond recent memory. Layer on the same services on different screens in mobile, video, and other parts of the globe, to create one sales platform that will provide a much belated evolution to how we sell advertising on this medium.
If you're a publisher, you should definitely be thinking about how to best utilize these new tools in the marketplace, and choose your vendor appropriately. Preferrably one that won't also be your competition.