Ad ops startup Aditude is carving out a niche in the pub tech market with its mix of header bidding solutions and managed services.
The 4-year-old company announced Monday it raised $15 million in Series A funding. It plans to spend the money doubling its headcount and enhancing its cloud-based prebid wrapper and other publisher tools.
The sole investor in the round was venture capital firm Volition Capital, which will gain a seat on Aditude’s board.
Prior to Volition’s investment, Aditude was 100% funded by its founder, Jared Siegal.
Siegal started the company almost by accident, he said. He previously worked in ad ops and partnership management for Answers.com and publisher video tech platform Playbuzz (now known as EX.CO). During that time, he noticed publishers tended to keep their ad ops, analytics and web dev departments siloed, which often resulted in tech tweaks by one department blocking the ad revenue stream. They also just flat-out needed help understanding header bidding.
Siegal decided to start his own consultancy focused on creating custom tech for publishers that would bring these disparate departments closer together.
Aditude grew from a solo operation serving 10 publishers to a 16-person team that serves 150 publishers across more than 2,000 sites.
Aditude still offers custom solutions tailored to individual publishers, as well as services for delivering in-stream and out-stream video ads and content management system updates.
But its flagship product is its cloud-based wrapper, which can handle header bidding on the client side (in which the ad auction runs on the user’s browser) or on the server side (with ad requests being sent to an external ad server). The product prioritizes speed for client-side auctions, which Siegal said it can run in under 100 milliseconds. Last month, the company’s header bidding wrapper processed more than 50 billion ad requests for the first time.
The header bidding wrapper is the only product Aditude actually charges for, Siegal said. The company’s other services are provided as value-adds for customers who adopt the wrapper.
A large part of Volition’s $15 million investment will go toward improving the wrapper, as well as developing a few up-and-coming products, such as an A/B testing user interface for site updates and an analytics platform that’s currently in alpha. The company will hire a dozen new developers, ranging from entry-level to management positions, to build the product.
Over the next twelve months, the company will also expand its sales team and earmark funds for marketing, including growing Aditude’s presence at industry events and perhaps hosting its own event.
Aditude will also be considering acquisitions, with Volition as a strategic advisor. Likely acquisition targets include header bidding companies that serve publishers in specific content niches. Such an acquisition could help Aditude grow its footprint in certain verticals, like sports blogs, for example, Siegal said.
The company is also looking to expand to new markets. Currently, Aditude’s focus is on the US and Canada. But it has started outreach to European clients, and it sees high growth potential in other English-speaking geos, like Australia. It is currently pursuing a deal with a publisher in South Korea. And Spanish-language publishers are also a priority for Siegal, who is fluent in the language.
“The managed services sector of our industry is a very small percent, which means there’s tons of programmatic revenue flowing through sites that are AdSense or [Google] AdX only or that are managing their ads in-house and have never heard Prebid,” Siegal said. “So, for us, the market is huge, and there’s a lot of opportunity.”