Three Startups Pushing Programmatic Advertising Forward

March 30, 2015

7:00 pm

Programmatic advertising is a fast-growing, data-driven media buying process that’s on its way to gobbling up the greater majority of advertising budgets. Since the process of real-time bidding (RTB) went mainstream in 2011, the ad industry has gone completely gaga over it – and with good reason, too.

As with most processes, digital ad buying started simple, only involving negotiations between advertisers and publishers over cost-per-mile (CPM) and budget to show an ad for a given period of time. However, as time moved forward, this purchasing process became more complex, presenting new factors such as more parties, increased overhead, and higher costs. Eventually, technologies were developed to further simplify media buying, and reduce human error – technologies better known as “programmatic advertising”.

With the ability to use intelligent software to purchase inventory, advertisers can easily optimize campaigns that leverage robust data to target individual prospects. Currently, RTB is dominating banner ad transactions with 94 percent of inventory being sold programmatically, according to an advertising company called Undertone. Over the past few years, we’ve begun to see more automated transactions in channels like native, social, video, and mobile, and will continue to see growth in each. In fact, eMarketer predicts that programmatic advertising will account for 63 percent of all digital display ad spending by 2016.

Even television advertising, the medium that receives the most spending, is starting to experiment with programmatic advertising; for example, ESPN is selling its first ad programmatically in January. Because this method is seeing rapid adoption, and is already adored by advertisers and marketers alike, we’ve seen the emergence of many new players who are creating innovative tech to help push this practice forward. Here are three start-ups that are doing their part to advance programmatic, and help establish it as the optimal way to purchase ads.


Programmatic advertising doesn’t just make advertisers’ lives easier, but publishers’ too. In order to efficiently advertise, there needs to be a place where ads will be seen by the right people (website, video players etc.). Supply-side platforms (SSP) help create and optimize premium ad inventory for publishers to sell, and not many do this as well as Q1Media’s proprietary SSP, Hydra Platform.

Boasting a 100 percent viewable ad inventory, Hydra also offers top-of-the-line performance reporting and access to more sources of revenue for publishers. It allows them to realize the true value of their properties across screens, using its flexible and powerful platform to help them bolster their per-page value.

In the past year, the company has received a handful of accolades. Some of these achievements include being listed as one of the most promising companies of 2015 by Forbes; earning a spot on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500; and showing up on Pixelate’s Global Seller Trust Index as the fourth most trusted online ad seller.


Just as publishers use SSPs to sell inventory, advertisers use demand-side platforms (DSPs) to purchase it. Each month, Yashi’s proprietary DSP delivers millions of location-focused video ads, and generates billions of impressions.

On top of location-focused targeting, the platform also allows for customization of pre-roll video and display campaigns, opening up targeting options like behavior, demographic, device, domain, and weather. To ensure full optimization, advertisers also have access to real-time performance reporting that delivers metrics with 100 percent transparency, allowing them to measure the effectiveness of campaigns and make on-the-fly adjustments if needed.

In its several years of operation, Yashi has established itself as a major player in programmatic advertising, garnering three consecutive Inc. 5000 placements, and appearing on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 last year. Recently, it was purchased by Nextar Broadcasting Group for $33 million, a transaction representative of the convergence of programmatic technology and traditional broadcast television.


Founded by the creator of the first ad exchange, John Goodhart, MOAT isn’t an SSP or DSP; it simply provides brand analytics. Currently, it leads the ad industry with pricing models and transparency for premium programmatic, allowing customers to collect and leverage the most important metrics for their businesses.

Its proprietary platform, simply called MOAT Analytics, comes with a slew of nifty tools that score the effectiveness of ads, optimize campaigns in real-time, compare performance to industry standards, and provide copious amounts of measurable data. It also offers an anti-fraud solution that automates clear, defined metrics that can highlight fraudulent traffic without necessarily calling it out. Over the past year, MOAT has seen major growth, forging a partnership with BrightRoll, and working with elite publishers such as Gannett and Forbes.

With their innovative offerings, these three companies are doing their part to make media buying easier and safer. The technologies they have built have not only helped their respective clientele, but programmatic advertising as a whole, contributing greatly to the advancement of the process by setting a high standard of technological excellence. With the emergence of more companies like these, we may see a fully programmatic marketplace sooner than expected.

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Adam is a writer who primarily focuses on video games, start-ups, and emerging tech. When not writing about or closely following the tech industry, he spends his time exploring numerous record shops in the Chicagoland area, on the basketball court, and immersing himself in virtual worlds. Email: Twitter: @inspectah_daws