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Freestar CEO, Kurt Donnell Talks 2023 Top Payors and Ad Tech with OAREX

With an excellent track record of making payments on time, Freestar was recognized again as an OAREX Top Payor for H1 2023. Learn more about Freestar, what they are experiencing in the ad tech industry, and predictions for 2024.

To highlight reputable companies in the ad tech world, OAREX recognizes the top demand partners who demonstrate excellent pay performance in its half-year Top Payor reports. These payors are considered valuable partners fueling the ad tech ecosystem through their commitment to supply partners. One company that continues to emerge as a Top Payor and was recognized in the H1 2023 Top Payor Report is Freestar. In this Q&A, Freestar CEO Kurt Donnell shares some predictions for the remainder of 2023 and the challenges the industry is facing.

Q: What are some of your predictions for the ad tech space in 2023? What do you anticipate for ad spend or liquidity markets in the second half of the year?
A: Some of the uncertainty surrounding a potential recession, which has been a cloud over ad spend, seems to be disappearing, and brands are preparing for a better fourth quarter. While M&A will likely remain slower for the rest of this year and the first part of 2024, there appears to be more signs of life in fundraising, and potential acquisition conversations are picking up. With the increasingly blurry lines between SSPs and DSPs, it will be interesting to see if smaller players in the space merge to try to compete with companies like The Trade Desk, Magnite, and Pubmatic.

Q: What are some of the current industry or overall challenges your company is facing right now?
A: In addition to a softer CPM market in the middle of the year, we have seen many publishers facing challenges with year-over-year traffic declines largely due to reduced referrals from Facebook, Twitter, and Google as a result of search algorithm updates. There is also the impact of COVID (thankfully being in the rearview mirror), which allowed people to get outside and away from screens.

Q: How are you addressing/overcoming these challenges?
A: We continue to invest in our audience strategy team, which provides on-demand consulting services to our publishers to help them combat these trends.  And, of course, we are always working closely with our publishers to ensure they are monetizing the traffic they do have efficiently and effectively.

Q: You were recognized as an OAREX Top Payor. How important are timely payments to your supply partners, and what steps do you take to meet those payment expectations in a volatile landscape like we see today?
A: Our relationship with each of our publishers is ultimately built on trust. Given the rather unique nature of the ad management space, we are often a publisher’s sole revenue stream. As such, our commitment to always pay on time or early is one of the most essential factors that underpins the trust we earn from our partners, so we take that responsibility very seriously.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about Freestar?
A: Freestar is a full-service ad management company that offers a suite of products and services that help digital media publishers maximize advertising revenue. Specifically, our machine learning-powered Dynamic Ad Stack technology optimizes the value of every single advertising impression to ensure publishers can continue creating incredible content across dozens of different verticals.  Freestar’s ever-expanding family of publisher and app developer partners reach over 70% of all U.S. internet users each month and provide unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their target audiences efficiently at scale. Founded in 2015, the company has grown exponentially, now among the top 15 in total U.S. internet reach. Freestar was named the number one fastest-growing company in the U.S. on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list and has remained among the 2,500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. each of the following four years, growing over 500% in that time. The company has nearly 200 team members worldwide in more than 20 U.S. states and ten other countries.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

A: We would like to extend a big thank you to OAREX for this opportunity and for shedding much-needed light on such an important element of the ad tech industry.

To learn more about Freestar, visit them on the web

OAREX, the Online Ad Revenue Exchange, offers fast, flexible funding for the digital ad ecosystem by enabling digital media businesses to exchange future revenue payouts for quick access to capital. Established in 2013, OAREX is a worldwide leader in financing for digital media businesses. East West Bank’s investment in OAREX is a testament to its model and the digital media industry as a whole. Visit for more information, or visit to open an account.