Altitude Digital raises $17.5M as it launches its new ad platform for publishers

Altitude Digital says it has poured $20 million into its just-launched Arena platform for publishers. That sounds like a lot of money for one product, but Altitude is also announcing that it has raised $17.5 million in new funding.

Arena is Altitude’s customizable, self-serve SSP — that’s the industry acronym for supply-side platform, which is what online publishers use to manage their ad inventory, in this case video ads. But Altitude CEO Jeremy Ostermiller argued that this isn’t just another SSP launch.

“What we’ve noticed as the industry has evolved is that the publisher is continually being squeezed and being at a huge disadvantage to the advertiser,” Ostermiller said.

In particular, he said that high-end publishers are “commoditizing” their inventory as they sell through the big ad-tech platforms, so he’s pitching Arena as a way for them to take back some of the control over their ad inventory. That includes the capability to build direct relationships with the demand-side platforms that buy advertising, and to create their own private marketplaces and ad exchanges.

Ostermiller also emphasized Altitude’s independence, saying that the company is just selling publishers an ad server — it doesn’t sell any advertising of its own, and it isn’t charging any additional fees besides the ad serving.

“This is really your SSP,” he said. “The only thing that we do on our end is, we’re a technology provider. When it comes to policy, that’s up to you. When it comes to brand safety, that’s up to you.”

Ostermiller added that by eliminating many of the middlemen in the ad-buying process, Arena can increase publisher margins by as much as 40 percent.

Altitude is one of the top 10 video ad properties in the United States, according to comScore. The new funding, a combination of equity and debt financing, comes from Multiplier Capital and Bridge Bank, a division of Western Alliance Bank.