Essential Fourth-Quarter Stats for Ad Tech and Platforms

The ups and downs of various industry leaders

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How ad-tech companies and platforms performed in Q4 2019. Getty Images

Editor’s note: Adweek worked with Matthew Scott Goldstein, a consultant with a deep knowledge of the media industry, to craft his quarterly newsletter into an Adweek article. Through his findings on various industry earnings calls, we’re bringing you insights about how your favorite brands, agencies, media companies, publishers and tech companies are performing on a quarterly basis. His goal was to go past what the trades were focusing on, which mostly revolved around revenue, and tap into the nitty-gritty data shared on these calls.

This iteration focuses specifically on ad tech and platforms in the 2019 fourth quarter.

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  • Criteo: We believe the industry is long overdue in replacing cookies as the technique used to personalize ad targeting on the web, and we welcome concerted industry efforts to evolve beyond cookies in privacy-safe ways. We’re very well positioned for this shift. We have strong capabilities that put us ahead of the identity changes. All our solutions are developed in privacy-by-design ways and operate strictly under the consent of the user. We have an unrivaled ID graph; 95% of our 2-billion-plus IDs in the graph already contain a significant number of non-cookie identifiers. We can make our graph even more flexible by adding more persistent identifiers and new identification capabilities through trusted partners. This makes our ID graph even less cookie-dependent over time and, added to the first point, a massive source of identity data. Accelerate our initiatives to build out a differentiated full-stack DSP, adding capabilities for upper-funnel marketing on top of our strengths in lower funnel, and offering more flexibility and transparency throughout the stack. Slow start that we’ve seen in the first quarter. We added 280 net new clients, ending the quarter with more than 20,200 clients globally, a 4% increase year over year, while maintaining high retention at 90% for all solutions. And from a supply standpoint, more than 4,500 direct publishers are now connected to one of our Criteo Direct Bidders on web and app.
  • The Trade Desk: Total spend on our platform in 2019 was a record $3.1 billion. While advertising is about $725 billion today, we expect it to pass $1 trillion in about seven years. Became the first DSP to go live with FreeWheel’s unified yield products. This is effectively header bidding for TV. Even though the cookie-based internet does not represent the bulk of our business and is certainly not part of the faster-growing segments of our business like CTV or mobile in-application, it’s important. Google is in a tough position; if they were to get rid of targeted advertising for everyone else, then I think they have an antitrust problem. If they were to not do anything, then I think they have a privacy problem. So I think they’re just trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do with both of those. And in a very Google-like way, they’re going to try to engineer their way into something that’s better. We think video in all of its forms will be about half the $1 trillion advertising pie. We predict that CTV will be the quantum leap forward that eventually forces all walled gardens to change course. While the economics of CTV are putting pressure on walled gardens, so is the state of the privacy debate.
  • Rubicon: Ad spend for the year came in at $1.12 billion versus $992 million in 2018, representing a growth rate of 13%. Take rate for the full year was 14%, which is slightly higher than the last take rate we reported of 13.8% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Been operating in a cookie-less world for over two-thirds of our inventory for some time, as you know, in mobile apps and in other forms of media that cookies aren’t being used, and, therefore, we’ve been able to figure out with our buyers how to monetize that inventory. Demand Manager with 86 live contracts. Revenue is not yet material and our plan is to steadily grow it in 2020. We expect Demand Manager revenue to exceed $5 million in 2020. The current fee structure includes fees based on total spend that the tool manages and on average are in the low single digits. Our fee structure also includes CPM-based pricing. Specifically in server-side header, publishers will need to decide whether to further invest in additional engineering talent and additional serving costs on their own or choose Demand Manager.
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Matthew Scott Goldstein is a versatile and hands-on, data-driven consultant with deep knowledge of the media business.