It always tickles me when Wall Street's traders rate Madison Avenue's. Today, the equity research team at Wall Street's Raymond James & Associates initiated coverage of Madison Avenue's aptly named The Trade Desk, giving it an "outperform" rating and a target price of $31. That's nearly twice what TTD priced its recent IPO at, and a significant bump over its trading range since going public in September. All for good reasons -- both micro and macro economic ones -- Raymond James analyst Aaron Kessler states in his initial investment thesis for the programmatic media trading company.
The explosion of digital advertising over the past years has caused huge problems of waste, fraud and general disengagement from traditional banner and video advertising. Native advertising has become the new standard in digital advertising for brands that want to improve the overall ad experience for potential customers, according to Antti Pasila, founder and CEO of Kiosked.
The foundations of the ad-tech landscape quickly shift as supporting technologies make their own leaps. Some businesses lose their edge, and others rise out of the ether, based largely on where consumers are moving online, which devices they spend their time on -- and, of course, financing interest.
The ad industry has never had more people counting it than it does today, but for me, the most definitive source continues to be Interpublic's Magna Global unit. And it's not just because of its longevity, though that is clearly part of it. The unit, and its predecessor McCann-Erickson Director of Forecasting Bob Coen, have been counting advertising about as long as there's been advertising to count. Seriously, the agency actually has stats on ad spending tallies going back hundreds of years.
When I ran into Paul Rostkowski and Keith Gooberman at Mitch Oscar's "Secret Society" meeting at Time Warner Thursday, I took a double take. It was the first time I'd seen the two of them together since Gooberman left as Varick Media Management (VMM)'s top programmatic trader in 2014 to form his own, independent agency trading desk, Programmatic Mechanics. "We're working together again," Gooberman said, making me think he'd reunited with Rostkowksi by rejoining VMM. But no, as it turns out, Rostkowski has stepped down as president of VMM to join Gooberman at Programmatic Mechanics.
As ad campaigns increasingly optimize for viewability, is there a reason to think twice about the appropriateness of focusing on that metric? Yes, there is -- according to a new study on viewability conducted by InSkin Media, Research Now and Sticky.
After reporting on Salesforce's acquisition of Krux, I got an unusual number of pitches from other suppliers who wanted to associate their names with the news, including one from Rocket Fuel CEO Randy Wooten. That caught my attention, because Krux CEO Tom Chavez referenced rocket fuel as part of the reason he sold Krux to Salesforce. "We're trading gas for rocket fuel," Krux stated, referring not to the proper noun, but the common one.
It's not as if ad tech's universe is beginning to collapse, but some of the biggest players are beginning to consolidate. A day after marketing cloud giant Salesforce.com announced the acquisition of hot DMP Krux, performance re-targeter Criteo announced the acquisition of retail site-oriented audience exchange HookLogic. The consolidation is long overdue. There simply are too many single-point, me-too solutions in the marketplace that are often difficult to differentiate.
After more than a decade of covering the industry's leading programmatic ad-tech players, I can tell you it gets harder and harder to tell their technology apart. As it turns out, one of the best ways to measure their vitality is not by their investment in machines, but in the people who build and manage them. And by that measure, the marketplace is beginning to stratify, with the biggest companies getting bigger, and the smallest ones struggling to keep pace.