“There are a lot of publishers out there that want to monetize their data,” said Adform CMO Martin Stockfleth Larsen. “They’ve sold out inventorywise, but the one area that hasn't sold out is data. It’s a natural extension to our existing platform.”
Adform’s DMP, available to its clients at no extra charge, is part of a stack that includes a rich media offering, tagging, reporting and a demand-side platform (DSP).
The DMP space is frenetic with activity, and ad tech providers that don’t have one are either quick to acquire (see: Oracle and BlueKai) or build (see: Xaxis). Adform, according to Larsen, took six months to build out its platform – and it didn’t cost nearly the $25 million that Xaxis’ new Turbine did.
To be fair, Adform’s DMP isn’t as fully featured as many others available today, especially those sold standalone. (Like MediaMath's DMP, Adform's isn't designed to be extricated from its stack.) At the moment, it doesn’t link users across devices nor does it plug into other DSPs or first-party systems like CRM (though it has an open API). While Adform will look to iterate these features into the platform at a later date, Larsen said there’s no definitive timeline to bring these capabilities to bear.
While the value proposition of Adform’s DMP is straightforward (i.e., add value by enabling clients to package and sell consumer data), clients who have used it seem happy.
Ricco Zuschlag, partner and founder of Scandinavian publisher Boliga, is one of the four or five publishers who used the DMP in a closed pilot. Zuschlag runs a financial site and a real estate site and uses Adform’s DMP to package visitor data (Zuschlag manages all of this himself because "it's fun").
“I can sell my data in a much more advanced way,” he said. For instance, a user on the real estate site could be looking at high-end homes, which would fall into BMW’s demographic.
The DMP enables Zuschlag to package up his data and send it out to Adform or an agency partner (which might then send it to BMW), or directly to the brand marketer. “It actually broadens out my reach a lot more for the agencies and for the direct buyers,” he said.
Adform’s DMP value-add comes during a time of heightened competition in the ad tech space. The company has 500-plus publisher and agency clients across 14 European countries and the United States. Though the US only constitutes a single-digit percentage of its overall business, it’s making a big push. Last month, Adform raised $5.5 million in Series B funding to enhance its US sales opportunities.
But Adform still has to remain vigilant in Europe; Larsen insisted the market there is just as competitive as its US counterpart.
“The bigger countries like UK, Germany and France have big competitors like Turn, MediaMath, DoubleClick and Sizmek,” he said. “Then you also have a lot of local competitors. There are German players, Swedish players, Polish players.” For instance, Polish startup RTB House is working its way through Europe.
And Poland in particular is promising because Larsen sees it as one of the fastest-growing European economies. “They’re not on the same level, financially, as some of the big countries like Germany,” he said. “But we’re starting to see a bit of traction on the programmatic side.”
Despite this excitement, however, European countries sit on a precarious economic precipice, which would impact the ad tech industry. Earlier this month, IPG Mediabrands' media investment arm Magna Global revised its growth projections; while the UK went up, France, Germany and Russia all went down, citing economic fragility in the European area.
If anything, this underscores the volatility of the ad tech market throughout the world. And ad tech companies need every technological advantage they can get. Adform’s new platform could be an attractive supplement for its European publisher clients, many of whom, Larsen said, don’t work with a DMP.
“There are some but in general, maybe the top five (publishers) of every country in Europe have a DMP,” he said. “The DMP is still quite an open market in many places in Europe.”
The US, he acknowledged, is a bit more mature in terms of DMP uptake. (Hearst, for instance, works with Lotame, Condé Nast uses Adobe AudienceManager and the New York Times uses Krux.) But Larsen sees opportunity for Adform: “There are still large publishers also in the US who haven’t taken advantage of monetizing their data in an automated way.”
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