A Daunting Path For Danish Ad Tech Company Adform As It Enters The US Market

adformimgFollowing its $21.5 million funding round to close out 2015, the Danish ad tech company Adform will test the dense US market.

The market entrance was confirmed by Julian Baring, Adform’s general manager of North American business, who was hired last August to build out operations in Canada and the US.

European data and advertising practices and regulatory pressures complicate penetration for Silicon Valley giants. But it’s unclear whether European startups can leverage their expertise operating in more stringent environments when opening up shop in the US.

Baring hopes so, especially when trying to attract US companies with tough privacy or regulatory standards, like financial services or telco. “As data standards and privacy laws evolve, everything we do is set at a higher bar,” he said.

German telco Deutsche Telekom, which has used Adform since 2014, initially looked at the whole market but some US companies had issues around data security and privacy, said Stefan Sommer, Deutsche Telekom’s senior manager of data-driven advertising. Safe Harbor magnifies these issues.

But Adform enters a competitive landscape dominated by major platforms such as Google and Facebook. “European businesses are much more sensitive to media-selling conflicts than American analogues,” said Baring.

In Europe, companies are more suspicious of tying too much of their business to massive digital marketing platforms, which benefits vendors like Adform. (Google, Facebook and Amazon have been fending off antitrust cases brought on by European companies and regulators.)

Baring is betting that American advertisers and media companies will become increasingly fractious with Google’s control over their data. But even if that happens, Google has lots of options to keep clients, such as its surprise reversal on a longstanding policy banning brands’ use of first-party CRM data.

Adform also pledges interoperability. It’s fine letting clients work with Sizmek or Flashtalking on rich media, for instance, or letting a client extract data from Adform’s platform and apply it elsewhere.

“Google and Facebook have other assets they’re monetizing,” Baring said. “The ad tech is there to monetize their primary business. Ultimately, we hope and believe (advertisers) will look for people who allow them to operate in the market with as much flexibility as they can.”

One built-in benefit for Adform is its expertise working across multiple European countries. Consequently, scale shouldn’t be an issue.

“The US seems vast,” said Baring, “but for a company that’s accustomed to the local irregularities of France, Germany, Norway, Spain and so on, advertising across Arizona, New York, Oklahoma, etc., is actually a much more homogenous market to approach.”

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