NEW YORK (The Street) -- Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of programmatic advertising -- whatever that is.
AOL's (AOL) impending sale to Verizon (VZ) for $4.4 billion has put the spotlight on automated, or programmatic advertising, an amalgam of technologies aimed at buying and selling advertising inventory across thousands of Web sites in real time using sophisticated computer programs.
Verizon's interest in AOL is centered on the company's programmatic advertising platform known as ONE by AOL which sifts through mountains of data about consumer habits and preferences to place video ads from marketers large and small on desktop and mobile devices. The technology also helps advertisers track consumer usage, generating a plethora of information largely unavailable through television advertising.
As AOL surged 18% on Tuesday, Rocket Fuel (FUEL), Rubicon Project (RUBI), and Millennial Media (MM) -- three pure-play programmatic stocks -- jumped as well. While Rocket fuel pulled back in early trading Tuesday, Rubicon extended its two-day advance to 7.4% and Millennial Media added 4.3%.
The future also looks brighter for TubeMogul (TUBE), which operates a platform for marketers seeking to place advertisements on Web sites. Shares of Emeryville, Calif-based TubeMogul tumbled more than 30% in February when the company's 2015 revenue forecast fell short of analyst expectations.
But on Tuesday, TubeMogul raised its estimates for the year, prompting shares to jump as much as 13% before retreating to a gain of 8.4% at $16.73. TubeMogul expects gross profit as much as $113 million on revenue in the range of $149 million to $157 million.
By comparison, AOL said last week that revenue at its AOL platforms unit, which includes sales from programmatic advertising, surged 21% in the first quarter to $279.8 million.
TubeMogul's raised expectations prompted Rohit Kulkarni, media analyst at RBC Capital Markets, to raise his 12-month price target on the shares to $20.
"Revised 2015 guidance implies momentum in the core self-service offering and early signs of Programmatic TV traction leading to sticky advertiser relationships and greater advertising spend visibility," Kulkarni wrote in a note to investors.