Key Points

  • Ad tech companies are buying other ad tech companies at record speed.
  • This consolidation is a result of a relatively low barrier to entry in the ad tech industry.
  • Publishers often feel confused or even manipulated as these ever-changing ad tech companies make false or misleading promises. But there are some ways to keep up.

Remember ad exchanges? They used to be a regular feature of the ad tech landscape. Now? You can hardly find a standalone ad exchange. Here’s why that is: Other ad tech companies like supply-side platforms (SSPs) and ad servers bought all of the ad exchanges and rolled them into their suite of services.

This kind of consolidation is happening at record-breaking speed in the ad tech industry. Putting any opinions about large corporations and monopolies aside, we’re still left with a problem: At best, all of this consolidation is confusing for publishers; at worst, it’s causing them to partner with tools and companies that simply can’t deliver on the promises they are making.

Consolidation doesn’t always lead to comprehensive offerings in ad tech. To be truly comprehensive, you have to have a deep understanding of publishers’ unique needs. At Playwire, we put the publisher first in everything we do, which is why we’re the right partner for you. Contact us to learn more.

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Ad Tech Stack Pillar

The Complete Publisher Ad Tech Stack: Everything You Need to Know

Big Companies Will Get Bigger, Small Companies Will Get Smaller

We have been in this industry for a while now. We have seen the ebbs and flows, rises and falls among ad tech companies, and we are pretty sure about what’s going to happen next: The big companies are, by and large, going to keep getting bigger, and the small companies are going to keep getting smaller or simply be rolled up into the larger ones.

There’s a simple reason for that: momentum. Once an ad tech company acquires or merges with another, it has that much more weight to throw around for the next merger or acquisition. Meanwhile, the smaller companies lose revenue to the larger companies’ planet-sized gravitational pull until they are acquired themselves or they simply close up shop.

Why does this matter for publishers? Because it’s a system in which the best company doesn’t always win. And when you’re trying to compete in web or app publishing, you need to work with the best — not the biggest.

Easy Entry, Big Egos, False Promises

Why does this keep happening? There are a few reasons that are relatively easy to spot:

  • Ad tech has a relatively low barrier to entry. Partners can break into the market by building header bidding stacks with limited capabilities.
  • These partners may not have a particularly effective product, but their egos bolster them enough to convince them that they are going to make a lot of money in this space.
  • They get by on what eventually amounts to false promises. They shroud what they really can do for publishers in smoke and mirrors, and in time, they fail to deliver, leaving the publisher to bear the consequences.

How Can Publishers Keep Up?

Consolidation among ad tech tools and companies only accelerates this confusion for publishers, so how can you keep up? We have a few ideas:

Investigate Claims

Lots of ad tech companies make big claims about their capabilities and offerings. Investigate them. You don’t have to spend too much time on this, but even checking a couple of quick claims will put you well ahead of the vast majority of publishers.

If a partner says they have a direct sales team, don’t just take their word for it. Instead, head over to LinkedIn and look at their employees. How many salespeople do they have? Is it just one? None?

If a partner says they can do something that their competitors can’t do in header bidding, why not cross-check that with their competitors? Get on a call and tell them what the partner said they could do (and they couldn’t do), and see what they say.

Go for Simplicity

If a partner can’t explain it to you in a way that you understand, they may not be giving you the whole truth. The truth is that, while ad tech is complicated, the core concepts that drive existing capabilities and innovations are simple, and a true expert can explain them in a way a non-expert could digest.

A word of caution: Go for simple, but don’t go too simple. For example, if a partner says they take a much lower revenue share percentage than all of their competitors, don’t just calculate what that would look like based on your current numbers — get the other numbers that go with that lower rev share figure, such as total revenue for publisher partners. 

Check for Reputable Partners and Relevant Certifications

Does the partner you are considering have or provide access to a data management platform (DMP) that will enable you to sell your data? Without a DMP, you’re missing out on an important way to increase your CPMs.

Are they certified with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)? Without TAG certification, major brands won’t work with you or your inventory.

If you’re a children’s publisher, is the partner certified with KidSAFE, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) and the COPPA Safe Harbor Program? Without these credentials, your entire brand is in danger — not just your revenue.

The list goes on, but the point remains: No matter how big the ad tech company is, it still has to work with the right tools and get the right certifications to be of use to you.

Work with a Trusted Partner to Publishers

It’s rough out there for publishers, and all of the corporate mergers and acquisitions happening in ad tech aren’t always working to make it any easier. You know who is working to make it easier? Playwire.

It’s our number one goal: Put publishers' needs first. That’s what sets us apart from the pack and positions us as a leading publisher partner in the ad tech space. Want to learn more about how we can take your revenue to new heights by putting you first? Reach out to our friendly and helpful team today.

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