‘There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.’ No quote better encapsulates a year that has brought such a paradigm shift to our world than this one than Vladimir Lenin (who would not have approved of adtech). Equally, 2020 will be viewed as a transformative year for the digital advertising industry.

A convergence of internal industry-related events (death of the cookie & ISBA PWC Transparency Report) and external events of a much larger scale (Covid & BLM) have created a perfect storm of disruption. The last time our industry underwent such a time was during the financial crash of 2007/08, out of which the industry as we know it and many of today’s leading ad tech companies were born.

Time will tell the ultimate direction our industry will take with all the disruption that is now happening. But if the ad-tech companies that are emerging in 2020 are any indication, the industry is heading towards a renaissance that will see us realize our full potential. Below are 5 innovative ad-tech companies that are helping to build a more sustainable, ethical and value-driven digital future across 5 categories: data sharing, attention, audience targeting, fraud & brand safety and billing & reconciliation.

Attention – Adelaide

As our industry rapidly evolves, so do our methods of media measurement and optimization. Viewability has established itself as one of the top measurement metrics we as marketers rely on to judge and optimize our media buys. Well with all due respect, viewabiity is so 2019. Enter a new method of measurement, ‘attention’. Attention metrics report on the measurement of media placements through the lens of the user ad experience on the media properties where the placements are run. Research has proven that low-clutter, high-attention, and consumer-friendly publisher ad experiences deliver the most effective impact for brands.

The first company to come onto the scene that is pioneering the use of attention metrics is Adelaide. Adelaide helps brand marketers assess the quality of their advertising spend through the use of attention data. Through their highly intuitive UI. Marketers have access to real time analysis on which ads and domains are most likely to positively impact results. Your ads can be 100% viewable. But if they are being placed on domains with 5 other ads also above the fold and in view. Then the likelihood of your ad getting noticed is slim. Through Adelaide, you can now ensure your ads are not just seen but leave a lasting impact.

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Audience Targeting – Fifty

How many of you have gotten a cookie-based campaign insight reports that either provides you with obvious insights you already knew about your audience, or provides you with insights that you can’t action on in any way? Having been on the creation and receiving end of these types of reports, I can attest that at best they are often highly unreliable due to the inaccuracy of cookie-based data and completely useless at worst.

Enter Fifty, a unique audience insight and targeting technology that uses social, CRM and web behavioral data to facilitate the creation of contextually relevant audience segments, which can be activated across social and programmatic channels. What’s more, Fifty is also able to use social listening technology to surface targetable keywords that are resonating at the moment with relevant audience segments for SEM campaigns. And if that’s not enough, Fifty also identifies domains that are relevant to the audiences that highly index against your brand which you can then whitelist and target through your display media buys. A true omni-channel tool unlike any I have ever seen. Fifty seamlessly bridges the gap between planning, activation and insights.

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Billing and Reconciliation – AdNode

If there is one area of digital advertising that is in desperate need of innovation, it is billing reconciliation. The direct source of reduced industry profits, wasteful spending, and hair-splitting frustration is traced to gross inconsistencies and inaccuracies in ad spend reporting. Currently the majority of this space is dominated by one player, Media Ocean’s Prisma product – but this legacy technology doesn’t sync up with publisher reporting, which means you can’t trust the numbers.

Now there is a company that is making everyone’s lives during the first week of every month a lot less stressful, and that company is AdNode. AdNode’s platform brings accountability, efficiency and automation to the billing reconciliation space. By integrating the publisher alongside the advertiser’s measurement and delivery data directly into their platform.

AdNode eliminates billing discrepancies by facilitating almost real-time billing reconciliation because all parties involved have automatically agreed to bill off one source of truth. Ad agencies save tons of time by automating the reconciliation process resulting in big operational efficiencies. Advertisers only pay for impressions meeting their billing rules (viewability, fraud, brand safety, etc) based on measurement vendors they select. And publishers improve effective CPMs (eCPMs) with better ad ops focused on delivering the highest value inventory buckets. A perfect example of a technology that brings value to all players involved in the value transfer.

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Data Sharing – InfoSum

Everyone and their mothers are now aware that the end of the third-party cookie will soon be upon us. If you are a forward-thinking agency or brand. The time to start exploring and testing cookie-less audience solutions is not tomorrow but today.

A player that has fast emerged as a real force in moving the industry into a cookieless world is InfoSum. InfoSum makes it easy for advertiser & publisher clients to maximize the targeting and measurement potential of their first party data in a privacy by design world.

Through their proprietary ‘bunker’ technology. InfoSum allows for the sharing of first-party data between brands and publishers in a manner that ensures no PII is ever shared and with no risk of data leakage. This privacy by design approach is fully GDPR and CCPA compliant. Through this approach, brands and publishers are now able to use InfoSum to facilitate a new digital ecosystem for advertising that allows for data-driven targeting and measurement that goes beyond the death of the cookie.

Fraud & Brand Safety – Method Media Intelligence

Move over Double Verify, IAS and MOAT. There is a new player in town and they’re doing things a bit differently. Having started as consultants seeking to fix the pain points that clients had with many of the name brand anti-fraud vendors. Unlike the other players that use a sample-based measurement methodology as well as cookies. Meaning only a small subset of impressions are measured and results extrapolated across the remainder of the media buy. Method breaks that trend, measuring every single impression without the use of cookies or PII.

The implementation of the tech is also elegant. No more process inefficiencies and campaign launch delays around the need to wrap tags for brand safety and fraud. That’s right, that whole step which often pushes back campaign launch for your brand or clients…gone.  But truly the best part about Method Media Intelligence is that there is nothing black box about them. The team is always happy to share the data from their end along with reasoning for why something was flagged as fraud or didn’t pass brand safety guidelines. This transparent approach and interoperability provides buyers with the opportunity to ingest their data into their visualization tool of choice allowing for seamless integration of Method’s tech into your day.

Final Thoughts

In today’s climate, staying positive can be tough. But despite all that is happening within our industry and outside of it. The continued growth and success of companies pushing the boundaries of innovation like the 5 above, even during times like these gives me hope that our industry’s future is a bright one.

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