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Inc. Revenue Survey: MediaMath Topped $310M In 2013, DataXu $118M

inc5000-2014Startups built on programmatic technologies are among  the fastest-growing companies in the United States, as reported Monday in Inc. Magazine's annual 500/5000 revenue survey.

Among the notable entries in this year's list: Demand-side platform MediaMath's revenue in 2013 reached $310.8 million, representing 490% growth over three years. Its competitor DataXu also made significant revenue strides for the second year running, growing from $87 million in 2012 to $118.4 million in 2013. (However DataXu's three-year growth rate has slowed considerably from an almost absurd 21,337% last year to 823% in the current report.)

A few other entries jumped out: Independent trading desk Accordant Media raked in $27.1 million (a 1,663% growth rate), and Integral Ad Science, despite having been around for a while, achieved noteworthy growth of 3,232% to $23.4 million.

Below we've compiled a list of ad tech companies that made the Inc. 500/5000 list, showing 2012 revenues and presented in descending order from highest growth rate to lowest.


Demand Media Names Ex-Ticketmaster Chief CEO Amid Q2 Loss

DemandDemand Media has named a former Ticketmaster chief Sean Moriarty as its new CEO. The move follows a rough second quarter, when it revealed last Thursday that its revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs (ex-TAC) declined 10% year-over-year to $87.1 million.

The company on Monday also acquired online art community Saatchi Online in a $17 million cash-and-stock deal. Moriarty served most recently as CEO of Saatchi Art. Demand Media Cofounder Shawn Colo took the reigns as interim CEO in October, when then chairman and CEO Richard Rosenblatt announced his departure. Colo is to serve as Demand's president upon the latest transition.

Demand Media, the owner of myriad media properties ranging from eHow to humor site, has experienced some pain points, as have other publishers, in their shift to programmatic pricing models. Ad revenue in the second quarter was $31 million, a 33% YoY drop, which Colo credited to "lower desktop traffic to our owned-and-operated properties and our strategic shift to programmatic ad solutions, which currently have a lower CPM than higher-touch direct ad sales."


ComScore Strengthens Demographics With Yahoo, Google Integrations, As Q2 Revenues Pop

SergeMattaMedia and audience measurement company comScore reported on Tuesday a 14.5% YoY revenue increase for Q2 2014 to $80 million, up from $69.9 million last year.

Although comScore renewed its preferred strategic partner deals with agency GroupM and consumer packaged goods company P&G for audience delivery measurement, the company recognizes there is room for improvement in brand marketer adoption.

“Today, we feel like we’ve penetrated less than 20% of advertisers [with vCE] so there is a lot more to do,” said Serge Matta, president and CEO of comScore, during the earnings call. He anticipates the company’s recent integrations of audience delivery validation tool Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) with Yahoo’s and Google’s respective ad buying and reporting platforms will help in this regard.

“With Google and Yahoo coming onboard, that will increase significantly,” Matta said, adding that mobile is also an area of concentration, though comScore is still zeroing in on display and video measurements. “Our focus 100% is display and video, video being equally important to display. Since we just released mobile vCE, it’s a key priority for us but mobile is still way behind in penetration compared to display and video.”


ComScore Acquires MdotLabs To Fight Cross-Platform Fraudsters

MDotComDigital media measurement company comScore revealed a deal Monday to acquire MdotLabs, a cyber-security startup that uses statistics and machine-learning to fight online fraud.

Non-human traffic, click-farms and other "invalid activity" represent a $14 billion assault on the advertising industry and have spurred deals in online fraud detection, most notably Google’s acqui-hire of earlier this year.

MdotLabs was founded in 2013 and employs 12 – including three PhD scientists. This team, including cofounders Paul Barford and Timur Yarnal, will join comScore. MdotLabs clients range from Meredith Corp. to LiveRail.

Upon acquisition, comScore will integrate some of MdotLabs’ rules, techniques and technology into comScore’s digital content measurement tool Media Metrix and Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE – which measures the audience exposed to digital ads). ComScore said the deal is also about securing talent to aid in technology and product innovation in the continuing fight against ad fraud.

ComScore has additional incentive to ensure digital audiences are human: It’s planning a fall release of a Total Video Cross-Platform Planning System and Video Metrix audience-tracking tool.

“With our video launch, the television portion [will be] brought in and in order to have that comparability, you have to make sure the digital portion is all human because the television GRPs are,” said Anne Hunter, SVP of global marketing strategy at comScore.


Another Chapter For Triggit, As Facebook-Only DSP Pivots To Native

zach-triggit-fundingTriggit, known to many as the "Facebook-only" retargeting firm, is taking on native ads outside the Facebook platform.

The company is courting publishers with the promise to support their native advertising formats and bring the kind of in-stream ad experiences it has run in Facebook's news feed over the past year to a wider range of supply sources. Its pitch to those publishers, according to CEO Zach Coelius: "We can fill your remnant inventory at very high CPMs  $5 to $10 CPMs  and hit your revenue targets."

"Remnant" and "native" are not frequently found in the same sentence, but that may change as every publisher – from news organization to gaming app developers – climbs aboard the native gravy train and native advertising becomes a commodity.

After two years positioning around retargeting campaigns on Facebook and one year buying ad space in the Facebook news feed, Coelius said, "We wanted more inventory. So we're going to big publishers, saying we'd love to do news feed-type ads."

He says Triggit is ready to power hundreds or even thousands of distinct native formats of the sort that have proven effective for Facebook. But he declined to name publishers or advertisers involved in the test.


Ad Fraudsters Hit Vertical Vulnerabilities

david hahn integralAre you a technology or retail company? If so, you’ve probably got a bigger problem with ad fraud than your CPG or telco counterparts, at least according to Integral Ad Science’s Q2 2014 Industry Report, which includes information from the ad tech companies, exchanges and agencies it works with.

So why are verticals like technology and retail – where 17% and 14% of impressions are fraudulent, respectively– suffering more than CPG (6%) or telecom (6%)?

“Verticals tend to buy in different ways,” said David Hahn, Integral’s SVP of product.

Verticals with lower fraud rates tend to buy directly from publishers, where 3.5% of impressions are fraudulent, according to Integral. This compares favorably against exchanges (10.5%) and ad networks (16.5%).


White Ops And ANA Partner To See What’s The What With Bots

fraudisadiseaseThere’s a digital ad fraud outbreak – one that gobbles up roughly $14 billion in advertising spend and between 25 and 50% of ad spend per campaign. White Ops CEO and cofounder Michael Tiffany likens the landscape to a cholera outbreak. Bots cause their devastation in a certain corner of the web and move on.

White Ops is about to embark on a month-long study with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to try and determine the true extent of digital ad fraud among a representative selection of the ANA’s membership.

“If you look at different campaigns or networks, the range of bot traffic can be 1% or more than 90%,” said Tiffany. “It would be foolish to say something like, ‘Cholera is hitting one-fourth of households;’ that doesn’t make sense. The point of doing this study is to try and put some bounds around the problem in a definitive, measured way.”

Thirty ANA members across a variety of industries — including automotive, CPG, financial, retail, tech, and travel — have agreed to include White Ops tags in their existing digital media over the month of August in an attempt to get a read on the percentage of display, video, mobile, and social campaigns affected by bot fraud. Individual participants will get proprietary reports at the end of the experiment with information on overall fraud rate, fraud broken down by platform (desktop versus mobile), format, and channel (publisher versus network or exchange). The ANA also plans to aggregate the results and release them industry-wide around September or October.


Media and Marketing M&A Values Rise, Small Deals Abound

more-little-mergersInvestment bank Berkery Noyes’ first-half report for 2014 shows total value for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the media and marketing industry up on a half-year basis, from $45.8 billion to $49.8 billion.

Total value of M&A in the industry had a sharp 70% increase compared with the first half of 2013, which had a total value of $29.5 billion.

But the overall growth belies another trend: a shift to smaller transactions. The report – which includes known and projected transactions – showed 82% of all transactions for the half were in deals valued under $55 million.

The large share of smaller deals in the overall M&A landscape has been of concern to some investors.

A recent report by Jordan Edmiston Group (JEGI), an investment bank, saw deals of less than $50 million comprise 83% of total volume in the media, information, marketing and technology industries. JEGI said in the report that the share of volume for smaller deals suggests "that corporations and investors are vigorously exploring acquisition opportunities but remain cautious to ‘pull the trigger’ on larger transactions as they wait for a clearer picture of the economy’s direction.”


Matomy Rekindles IPO, Seeks $347 Million Valuation

ofer-druker-matomyThe on-again, off-again IPO plans of Israel-based Matomy Media Group are on again.

The performance-based ad tech company began three days of so-called "conditional trading" on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday in preparation for its official debut on Friday. It will seek to raise $70.1 million at a $347 million valuation.

Matomy previously attempted to go public, but scrapped those plans in April owing to what it called a "technicality" of London IPOs that requires a minimum of 25% of a company's shares to be claimed by investors in the European Economic Area.

At the time it also cited the worsening environment for ad tech IPOs, exemplified by pressure on the stock prices of Tremor Media, YuMe Rocket Fuel and others. The company overcame the former obstacle by  joining the London Stock Exchange's High Growth Sector, which doesn't require 25% EEA investment, according to a representative. 

"We were disappointed to have postponed our offer earlier in the year, but we are delighted to be announcing our offer price today with such strong investor support," CEO Ofer Drucker said in a statement. "We have continued to grow our business in the interim, including the recent successful acquisition of a majority ownership stake in the direct navigation Internet search company Team Internet."


IZEA CEO On The Benefits, Pitfalls Of Native Advertising

IZEAIZEA, a company that connects social media content creators with brands, recently rolled out a cloud-based "Sponsorship Marketplace" to help advertisers automate content distribution and measurement. IZEA's network is comprised of over 50,000 registered advertisers and agencies. Some of the company's agency partners include Mindshare, Starcom, Initiative, Ogilvy and Hill Holliday.

Founder and CEO Ted Murphy spoke with AdExchanger about the state of native and social advertising, and the potential pitfalls that native approaches could present.

ADEXCHANGER: What are agencies and brands doing with paid social and native advertising?

TED MURPHY: We’re seeing a big move toward short-form content. Whether it’s status updates or short Vine videos, photos or Instagram videos, art of that is because there are more content creators out there and it’s easier to produce (short-form content) rather than writing long posts or making in-depth videos.

I think there’s a challenge that agencies and brands are dealing with. On one side, there’s the display network that can offer a huge amount of tonnage and really achieve ad rates, but at the end of the day the engagement is very small and there’s usually zero pass-along value. I think what brands are starting to recognize is that they’ll likely be paying higher rates to do any sort of sponsored content or native advertising, but if it is done in the right way they have the ability to take advantage of the sharability of the content created.