As the online ad technology industry consolidates, it is becoming tougher for startups to stand out among the giants. The 500-pound gorillas like Google and Microsoft keep integrating in new technologies and selling themselves as a one-stop shop to ad agencies, publishers, and brand marketers. But a group of ad tech startups is in the process of creating a counterweight to all the consolidation by establishing a consortium for sharing data and agreeing on standard ways to interoperate.
Details are still spare on the yet-to-be announced group, but here is what I've been able to find out from industry sources. It will be called the Consortium for Accountable Advertising. The four founding members are Cross Commerce Media (Stephen and Heidi Messer's ad startup) , Clickable, MediaMath, and TARGUSinfo. They are actively recruiting other ad tech companies to join the consortium.
Companies that join agree to allow their customers to share data. So much of ad tech these days is taking impression data or response rates and combining it with other data to better target ads or analyze how existing campaigns are doing. If an ad agency wants to start using MediaMath, they should be able to take all of their data from past campaign's from Clickable and pour it into MediaMath's engine, and vice versa.
Companies which choose to join the consortium are essentially removing barriers to entry and customer lock-in, but in return they are making it easier for customers to choose best-of-breed services. Google's one-stop-shop might not be as appealing if it becomes easier to mix and match technologies from different ad startups in a simple way. Also, as the industry inevitably continues to consolidate, companies in the consortium will be one step ahead because in a sense they will be pre-integrated. But will it be enough to slow down the gorillas which just seem to keep gaining more and more market share?
Image by txkimmers