Ad Industry Evolution
With the evolution of the digital ad space, ad operations has become integral to the growth and success of online publishers. As the industry has evolved, so has the number of solutions publishers leverage to monetize – this includes multiple ad servers, programmatic partners, and advanced technology, like header bidding, to drive demand. Publishers have historically struggled to keep up with the fast-evolving space, given their core competencies are around creating content and driving traffic, not managing their ad stack. We are thrilled to announce our $15M investment in Aditude, a next-gen ad ops technology company addressing these publisher pain points.
Increasingly Complex Publisher Tech Stacks
In their infancy, most publishers leverage Google AdSense as the easiest way to push ads onto their sites. While this effectively turns on monetization, it lacks key capabilities that limit the types of ads served and demand for their inventory. Simply put, publishers leave revenue on the table with a Google-only solution. As publishers grow, they adopt more advanced solutions to their tech stack, like header bidding, that drive higher CPMs and increase monetization. As you can imagine, this growth comes with complications. While managing these advanced solutions can be done in-house, it requires technical expertise and, often, an entire team to run. In fact, only 36% of the top 25K online publishers leverage header bidding, likely due to the difficulty of implementation and ongoing management¹. And, for those that do, they have shifted towards the use of outsourced ad ops solutions to handle their stack entirely – 75%+ of publishers who use header bidding outsource it to a managed ad ops solution, which is up from 63% in 2017².
Limitations of Existing Managed Ad Ops Solutions
To keep pace with the changing tech landscape, publishers have increasingly outsourced their ad ops to third-party managed services. Several successful businesses have been built supporting the ecosystem of publishers, helping them adopt new technologies and bring in additional demand partners to drive revenue. In particular, a key value-add for publishers is the level of service and out-of-the-box SSP relationships they provide, which can be difficult for publishers to establish independently. Despite this, many managed providers come with their drawbacks. With a focus on service, managed ad ops providers tend to put technology advancements on the back burner. Many providers use white-label technology from third-party or open-source solutions, like Prebid, rather than building their own in-house. On top of this, ad ops vendors are expensive, taking a 20-30% cut on ad spend given they have many intermediaries and tech providers to pay. In a growing market, publishers may turn a blind eye to this cut. However, as recessionary fears have caused a decline in digital CPMs, publishers have been focused on re-evaluating their programmatic solutions to understand who is truly serving value and driving revenue.
When the Volition team first connected with Aditude, it was clear that the team were domain experts, building disruptive technology that is publisher-first. CEO Jared Siegal founded Aditude in response to the pressing need of publishers to adapt to the increasingly complex digital ad space. Even today, publishers are leveraging legacy or immature advertising stacks and missing out on clear monetization opportunities. After launching as a consultancy, the business has since evolved into a next-generation ad tech company driven by the team’s deep industry expertise. Aditude’s proprietary monetization suite, including a cloud-based header bidding technology, a front-end content management system (CMS), and an all-in-one video solution, has seen rapid adoptions since its launch in late 2021. As publishers look for true technology partners, not just service shops, Aditude’s offering stands out from the crowd as the only company building everything in-house. More importantly, the technology is custom-built to address publishers’ needs rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. This hyper-obsession with building superior technology has helped Aditude cut through the noise of managed ad ops vendors and provide a clear value-add. On the backs of a lean team, Aditude has successfully brought on larger publishers who are using their solutions and ad ops team to drive north of 20% uplift on revenue. In addition, given their technology is proprietary, Aditude can keep costs low, charging publishers on a fixed-CPM model rather than taking a cut on ad spend like the rest of the market. This has created a win-win for publishers of better performance at a lower cost, which has enabled Aditude to rapidly scale and be profitable since inception.
Most importantly, we are deeply impressed with the world-class team behind Aditude. Jared, the CEO, implemented the first header bidding technology ever in his role at Answers.com and has leveraged his experience to identify gaps in current publisher solutions. Jared tapped CTO, Erik Omlid, to come on board to build out Aditude’s in-house technology as the Company transitioned away from a consultancy to a next-gen product suite. Their commitment to delivering superior technology to publishers, coupled with deep domain expertise, has impressed us since day one. We are excited to be partnering with the Aditude team and look forward to supporting them on their journey ahead.
-Jim and Emily
 Kevel Header Bidding Index (HBIX) Tracker
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