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Sail On Ad Tech; Hello Rev Tech!

I’m going to be honest. I think we’ve lost the plot. Somewhere along this wild ad tech ride, we've managed to forget that the industry exists as a tool for premium content providers. The goal of that tool is to earn them revenue. That's our mission. That's our end game. Giving content creators the ability to maximize revenue through advertising is our core focus. Or, at least it should be. Call me a skeptic, but increasingly it doesn’t look that way anymore.

It's time premium content providers stop thinking of our industry as “ad tech” and instead start thinking of it as revenue technology. The ad industry needs a makeover, and the core principles that govern our industry needs a realignment. An evolution from ad tech to revenue tech would shake up the entire ecosystem for the better.

Instead of focusing on all that's wrong with the industry (woah boy, there's a ton we can point to -- also, pot meet kettle), we can start focusing on maximizing revenue for content providers instead.

What would a shuffle of this magnitude result in?

  1. Premium content providers would realize that it's absurd to outsource their primary revenue to third parties.
  2. Premium content providers would start to realize that they need to take full control of their revenue streams, whether that’s developing in-house solutions or aligning themselves with more responsible partners.
  3. Premium publishers would realize that "ad tech" exists to serve them. Not the other way around.
  4. Premium publishers would start demanding different pricing models and increased transparency from “ad tech” companies.
  5. Ad tech would clean up its act in a hurry.

The push is already well underway.

At the risk of belaboring my point, here's a list of premium content creators who have purchased "ad tech" companies over the last couple of years:

  1. Time Inc. purchased Adelphic.
  2. Time Inc. purchased Collective.
  3. Time Inc. purchased Viant.
  4. Ancestry purchased AdPay.
  5. Yellow Pages purchased Juice Mobile.
  6. New York Times purchased Hello Society.
  7. News Corps. purchased Unruly
  8. AOL purchased Millennial Media
  9. LinkedIn purchased Bizo
  10. Scripps purchased Midroll Media.
  11. Alibaba purchased AdChina.
  12. 21st Century Fox purchased True[X]
  13. The Washington Post is building its own ad tech tools.

There are a lot more I’ve probably forgotten too.

Lower and mid-tiered content creators will always need to bootstrap their advertising revenues in some capacity, but the top A-list publishers? Well, it’s increasingly obvious that they’re over the idea that they need to string together dozens of advertising technologies just to survive. Convoluted ad tech stacks are a thing of the past. A-list content creators are looking for tools that help them sell advertisements directly to audiences, not funnel inventory through arcane systems that do nothing but devalue premium audiences.

Publishers are about to own ad tech. Just wait and see.

By Joshua Schnell

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