Adbrain launches beta platform after seed funding round

Real-time advertising platform Adbrain has launched a private beta platform for its programmatic ad buying solution, nine months after nailing $1.5m in seed funding.

The platform, which enables programmatic mobile audience buying, has garnered support from ad companies M&C Saatchi Mobile, Fetch and Somo, as well as agencies Annalect and The Exchange Lab.

Adbrain claims its solution is unique because it enables buyers to layer first, second and third party data for “hyper-efficient real-time mobile ad buying and optimisation,” according to a company press release.

The company, which has doubled its employee number in the past couple of months, is UK-based for now, but with a plan of building a “global technology business with our engineering hub out of London”, according to CEO Gareth Davies.

“The bottom line is our business is very much an engineering, AI-driven business,” he tells MarketingTech. “Even the engineering skill set, there’s some really cutting edge, exciting stuff happening with our engineering team.

“We don’t sell media, it’s a pure technology play,” he adds.

Adbrain is one of many companies which offers real-time advertising solutions based on getting the most out of companies’ data to deliver multi-screen optimisation.

Davies explains he has been “blown away” by the investor buy-in to his company’s product.

“It goes back to the pain point,” he argues: “Historically digital advertisers, brands that want to reach consumers on mobile devices, have to buy through predominantly black box ad networks or black box DSPs, demand-side platforms.

“The reality is as a buyer you don’t get transparency, you don’t know where your ad’s run, you don’t really have the control.”

For Davies, it’s an exciting market to be in.

“The desktop world has seen huge innovation within the automation of advertising and real-time bidding (RTB) over the last five to seven years,” he explains. “We’re seeing pretty dominant growth.

“The big themes that are rocking the industry within digital advertising are really driven around automation, programmatic, another word for RTB, or real time advertising – a second trend being mobility and the proliferation of devices.

“We think consumers will move to a mobile first world, almost 100% of consumers are interacting across multiple devices throughout the day – and that’s where we’re really looking at Adbrain,” Davies adds.

Despite this hype, the landscape can still be confusing.  Back in 2012, research from Adform showed only 32% of UK-based ad:tech delegates understood what RTB was, compared to 67% of American counterparts.

Things have gotten better since then, but Davies’ mission is to cut the jargon and give a straight message.

“If you look at our website and all of our marketing collateral we make a concerted effort to simplify our language,” he explains. “Fundamentally I think we try and avoid over-complicating the landscape.”

So what about the spurious term ‘hyper-efficient real time’ in the press release which arrived in MarketingTech’s inbox?

Davies explains: “Clients plug in to our technology to buy ads from the exchanges. All of this is done in real time. We’re no more real time than anyone else; it’s just a real time protocol.”

“What matters is not how fast your bidder is. The value lies inherently in the data, and we believe we can help clients unlock the value of that data through smart algorithms, as well as this open infrastructure where clients feel confident to share their data.

“The delivery is actually a small piece of [the product]. Most important is making the decision – having the intelligence in your technology to work out which ad to show to which user based on the environment, the device, the time of day, and the audience persona that we have.”

Yet for Davies it’s a concerted mission to make the digital advertising market a simpler place.

“Our goal is to always try and simplify that language, and avoid acronyms and just talk about how technology can deliver value for clients,” he explains.

“As an industry there’s always those that like to take advantage of acronyms because it allows them to, dare I say it, put smoke and mirrors a little bit around what they’re doing and sell it as the next new thing.

“It’s not necessarily a horrible thing, it’s kind of the nature of the market.”

There are many competitors in the marketplace, and many different solutions for marketers, advertisers and publishers. This ranges from the programmatic buying of Adbrain, to the real time bidding of Adform, to the search retargeting of Captify.

For Davies, this move towards automation is an inevitability, citing the shift in financial stocks of the 1980s.

“Across the board, we’re going to see the whole industry within digital move towards automation,” he says. “It provides more control for the buyer and seller, it helps deliver more relevant ads and delivers better results.

“We’ll see TV and digital out of home all become digitised, and I think we’ll see more of an automation process happen. I think certainly the next five to 10 years we’ll see widespread adoption – the next five at most.”

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