The Future of AdTech Startups – Meh
Jerry Neumann did a nice job looking at investments in adtech startups in a post called the Immediate Future for Adtech startups. TL:DR he found rapidly declining investments in adtech startups in Crunchbase while he sees an impressive number of adtech startups in Angelist. His takeaway seems to be that venture investors are less interested in adtech while founders remain hopeful.
At first blush that sounds plausible but given that I am contacted by many adtech startups, my feeling is that there is rapidly declining innovation and ambition in adtech. The last startup that I thought was ambitious and well run was MoPub. Taking on DFP and building an ad server is ambitious.
Neumann listed 100+ adtech companies in Angellist that were founded in 2013. That sounds like a lot but looking at some of them I feel like their listing has more to do with Angelist’s growth than adtech’s growth. For example:
Advertrates is “a website where you can get advert rates of newspapers, magazines, tv stations, radio stations and so on in Nigeria.”
Citeads is a one person company with one follower on Angellist. He plans free classified ads for cities.
Adladl say they “Turn low value online display ads into high value search ads.” There are a bunch of other companies doing this.
Vorcu is an affiliate network for Latin America.
ZeeRabbit says it is “like AdWords for mobile user in-app activity that delivers instant targeted brand rewards.” It has raised seed funding.
Adsolut calls itself Admeld for Africa.
I haven’t looked at the entire list but I can’t find anything on here that is exciting. I understand why founders like this space. These types of adtech companies are easy to start and you can get some cash flow quickly, but it would be great to find a startup here that could be a game changer.