Renewed Focus On 'Tech' In Ad Tech Creates New Digital Big Five

Since the beginning of the digital media era, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and now Facebook have set the direction, held the most reach, and developed or acquired the majority of advertising technology. These companies are referred to as the “big five” in digital media, similar to the term coined by African big game hunters for the species most difficult to bag: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and cape buffalo.

Numerous sources report that the digital big five receive over half of digital media revenue, have purchased the majority of the hottest start-up and technology companies in the market, and are believed to have the largest and best engineering talent driving our industry forward.

Many bankers, investors, and technologists believe there is a new big five looking to capture more ad space now that more technology is coming into ad tech. Programmatic is considered the catalyst enabling this new big five. Let’s take a look at them in further detail.




According to Forbes, Amazon is leveraging a massive amount of data from its millions of customers and developing its own software for placing ads online.  It is also developing sponsored link, which will works like Google AdWords. Industry insiders believe this will not only affect the world of online ad placement, but retail on both online and offline retail business.  Amazon has also developed an ad network, leads in cloud computing, invests heavily in mobile, and purchased several start-ups.  One of the main reasons the sleeping giant is awakening is its efforts in programmatic and RTB.


Many digital media leaders have been blown away by how the world’s largest retailer has embraced social, mobile, and big data. Is it too little, too late? Not according to the Walmart Labs leaders, many of whom were Silicon Valley's top high-tech talent. Walmart’s efforts in programmatic have created some of the most interesting developments in the industry.  Look out for more acquisitions of talent and technology as Walmart moves into ads.


Today, Apple is mostly a hardware company, but it looks to be more focused on software, services, and advertising in the future. Many guess Apple’s future lies in billion-dollar businesses like music services, cloud services, e-commerce fees, and ads. Even though Apple started an ad business some time ago, it has not pushed it.  iAds has quietly, according to ZDNet, become a big advertising player and plans to move the needle to diversify revenue from the iPhone to ads and services.


eBay continues to invest heavily in marketing services for its clients. Its new driving force is mobile, payments, big data, and an ad network. The eBay Audience Platform acts like a trading desk, and through two years of serious investment, is delivering results to its client’s campaigns. More than any of the other companies in the new big Five, eBay is betting most on the next generation of ad exchanges.


Not only is Alibaba about to have the biggest IPO ever, China’s largest e-commerce company is also no stranger to the advertising business. With revenue close to $10 billion and the largest advertising marketing in China, Alibaba will give the old big five a run for their money.

Look out, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook! The new big five have the assets and deep pockets to begin to dominate the digital advertising space by putting “tech” into ad tech.


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