Adform is one of the leading integrated advertising technology companies in the world and provides the software used by buyers and sellers to automate digital advertising. Used by brands, advertisers and publishers, it employs more than 850 staff across 28 offices worldwide. WNIP caught up with Phil Acton, UK Country Manager, to find out more…
Can you give us further background about Adform?
We were founded in 2002 in Copenhagen, Denmark by three code-writing engineers; Gustav Mellentin, Jakob Bak, and Stefan Juricic. The company is still led by its founders, as well as being supported by a strong management team and board members with comprehensive tech experience. The company is privately owned and fully independent.
What business problem is your company addressing?
There are a few major challenges affecting publishers in the industry at present. Given the complexity of ad tech, publishers can often have various vendor solutions. They may have an ad server, supply-side platform (SSP) and, in some cases, a data management platform (DMP) too. This means a high probability of different point solutions to work with and manage. This is why having a fully integrated ad tech solution can offer publishers greater efficiencies by having a single user interface (UI).
Undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges facing publishers today is competing for ad revenue with Facebook and Google, and the growing dominance of walled gardens. We enable publishers to take back control of their inventory through our media agnostic solutions and additionally offer transparency. Our platform also provides a solution to publishers who want to maintain a direct sales channel, while also embracing the power of programmatic.
Finally, and perhaps the biggest challenge facing the industry as a whole, is the well-documented ‘death of the third party cookie’, particularly on Safari and Firefox browsers. Without an industry-wide agreed solution, this could irreversibly damage publisher revenues and is a major concern for all.
What is your core product addressing this problem?
Our Integrated Advertising Platform (IAP) for publishers is used to monetize inventory. Through the IAP’s unified dashboard, publishers can benefit from a media-agnostic full-stack comprising of a DMP, SSP and programmatic publisher ad server. We offer automated and streamlined workflows for the promotion, sales and management of all guaranteed and insertion order (IO)-based ad sales. Publishers can also leverage the IAP’s extensive demand for premium mobile inventory while enjoying format support, in addition to advanced tracking and reporting. We can support publishers with monetizing video content by connecting them with suitable advertisers.
Outside of our core product, Adform spent the second half of 2019 focusing on addressing targeting and measurement for Safari and Firefox browsers. We strongly believe the solution here is for publishers to implement what is now known as first-party IDs, which can help them compete better with the dominant walled gardens. At Adform we have a unique ability to link first-party IDs, which can help regain lost ground for both the buy and sell-side. Publishers need to unite here and strive to evolve the industry solutions that Adform and others – such as the IAB TechLab – have been championing as a solution for all. Other notable initiatives include the UK’s Ozone Project, which is a fantastic example of a successful industry-wide publisher initiative.
Our BMW case study, whilst focused on a TV campaign primarily, is a good guide to our technology in action…
Adform offers an integrated advertising platform for publishers, but not every product in our media agnostic full stack will be relevant to everyone, so pricing is reflected in the needs or services a client might require.
What are other people doing in the space and why?
One of our greatest points of difference is our independence and that we are media agnostic. The market is, as always, going through a period of consolidation and we’ve seen some of our largest competitors be bought by media owners. Adform is proud to continue on its mission to ensure the industry continues to have a neutral provider that offers an all-encompassing solution.
How do you view the future?
Our latest innovations include our new Cross Device Graph which helps reduce ad waste and user fatigue caused by irrelevant and repetitive ads for campaigns that run for multiple days or weeks. We’re extremely proud of our artificial intelligence (AI) Odin – named after the Norse god – that offers the ability to rapidly crunch massive datasets, generate relational data, and help optimize campaigns.
In terms of the industry itself, I mentioned previously the duopoly being one of the biggest challenges that publishers face. We are already seeing publishers tackle this through greater collaborative efforts such as those mentioned earlier and the ID consortiums that exist in both Germany and France and, we are at the forefront of working on a solution with the IAB. Publishers are also innovating with new revenue streams such as selling data via DMPs to create more video inventory and opening up native ads in-app.