The ad tech IPO market has dried up in the last 18 months. Public ad tech stocks have fallen 13% this year.
But the private ad tech market is still bustling. Plenty of ad tech companies are getting snapped up by larger firms, raising VC money (although, admittedly, some of the rounds aren’t as big as they used to be), or simply steadily growing their businesses quarter-on-quarter.Three of the companies on last year’s ad tech startup ranking have since been acquired. This ranking (and, yes, we were debating whether to lose the “pre-IPO” headline) looks at the hottest private ad tech companies right now. Our data comes from CrunchBase, LinkedIn, our own reporting, that of other business publications, and the advice of a handful of ad tech industry insiders. Our ranking takes into account: Revenues, headcount, venture funding, recent news, whispers, and reputation. Last year’s ranking was more weighted toward revenue, whereas this year’s ranking takes into account more metrics than revenue alone. (One company in the list is even pre-revenue!)
CEO: Amit Avner
Estimated revenues: $10 million, according to Forbes
Total funding to date: $32 million
Comment: Taykey made two senior hires recently: Yaron Waxman as its new VP of product (previously CPO at Showbox), and former Criteo marketer Jon Nevitt as its VP of marketing.
The company, which tracks trends for marketers among their desired audiences, has backing from big-name investors including Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, SoftBank Capital, and Sequioa Capital.
CEO: Dan Greenberg
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $30 million and $40 million net
Total funding to date: $28 million
Comments: Sharethrough is a San Francisco-based company that specializes in programmatic native advertising.
The company says it doubled the amount of video impressions served through its exchange in 2015. Sharethrough also launched a product called “video view ads,” which it describes as “the first autoplaying in-feed native video product for the open web.”
CEO: Art Muldoon
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $50 million to $60 million net
Total funding to date: $1.4 million angel investment
Comment: Accordant is a media buying and optimization company for agencies and in-house brand marketers. The company has offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and it expanded into London last year.
Accordant claims it has achieved a 5-year compound annual growth rate of 65%. The company has appeared in the Inc 5000 rank of the fastest-growing companies two years in a row.
CEO: Harry Kargman
Estimate revenues: We are told least $100 million gross, but it’ll be less on a net revenue basis. We couldn’t get an accurate net revenue estimate.
Total funding to date: $0
Comment: Kargo’s publisher platform combines content with native brand advertising for mobile.
The company has worked with brands including Target and McDonald’s.
Kargo says it increased revenue in 2015 by 100% and is forecasting revenue growth of between 60% to 75% this year.
CEO: Zvika Netter
Estimated revenues: We estimate around $50 million net
Total funding to date: $65 million
Comments: The past 12 months have been busy for video marketing platform Innovid in terms of partnerships.
Highlights include partnering with Snapchat to provide advertisers with more detailed data about campaign deliver, offering interactive video capabilities on Instagram and Facebook, and partnering with Roku to power personalized, targeted, interactive video ads.
The company also raised a $27.5 million funding round from New Spring Capital, Sequoia Capital Israel, Genesis Partners, Cisco Ventures, and T-Venture.
CEO: Rajeev Goel
Revenue: We estimate north of $100 million
Total venture funding: $63 million
Comment: Deloitte ranked PubMatic as one of the fastest-growing companies in the US for the fourth consecutive year in 2015.
PubMatic links this to its 200% growth in mobile advertising in the first half of the year. Mobile now makes up 65% of the volume on PubMatic’s platform.
The company laid off 20% of its workforce in December as it refocused the business around the minority of its publishers that drive 90% of its revenue.
CEO: Ari Paparo
Estimated revenues: $3 million to $4 million (the company only launched a month ago)
Total funding to date: $2 million
Comment: Beeswax, which only officially launched in April this year, may only have tiny revenues compared to the other companies on our list but where this firm punches above its weight is its innovative offer.
Beeswax is as a “bidder-as-a-service” platform that allows advertisers to custom-build a cloud-based bidder, which undercuts other ad tech companies on price. Its fees start at $7,500 a month, a lot cheaper than the $1 million it would cost to build a bidder in-house.
CEO: Robert Lang
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $30 million and $50 million net
Total funding to date: $34 million
Comment: In September, Socialbakers’ long-time, respected young CEO and cofounder Jan Rezab handed over the reins to Robert Lang, who joined the company from France-based public ad tech firm Criteo. Rezab is now executive chairman.
Socialbakers, which is based in Prague, is valued somewhere north of $200 million and it customers include more than half of the global Fortune 500 companies.
CEO: Dipanshu Sharma
Estimated revenue: xAd said in May it had achieved a $250 million revenue run-rate. (That’s gross revenue, though. We couldn’t get closer to an accurate net figure.)
Total funding to date: $74 million
Comment: EMarketer’s Mobile Stat Pack 2016 report listed xAd as the “largest player in mobile location marketing” in terms of mobile and display revenue. The company says it generated 100% revenue growth year over year in May.
The company also recently appointed former Google and Yahoo exec Shashi Seth as its chief product officer.
CEO: Matt Keiser
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $30 million to $50 million net
Total funding to date: $55 million
Comment: LiveIntent is an email advertising company that reaches 130 million people a month. It personalizes the ads inside email newsletters to different audiences.
Last year, the company featured in Crain’s 50 fastest-growing companies list for the second year in a row.
In June 2015, the company closed a $32.5 million Series D funding round.
CEO: Dominic Joseph
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $40 million and $50 million net
Total funding to date: $14.5 million
Comment: London-based Captify raised £8 million ($11.6 million) in funding in June last year, which the company said would enable it to “consolidate [its] position as the European market leader in search data-driven advertising and analytics.”
Captify says its search data network covers 550 million unique users globally. Its clients include Microsoft, British Airways, Barclays, Sky, American Express, and BMW.
The company, founded in 2011, is young in many respects: Cofounders Dominic Joseph and Adam Ludwin are aged 30 and 27.
CEO: Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan
Estimated revenues: We don’t have an accurate estimate on net revenues. The company said it achieved a $100 million annual revenue run-rate in Q4 2015, but this is a gross figure (and a run-rate).
Total funding to date: $45.5 million
Comment: In May, Drawbridge raised $25 million in Series C funding that it plans to use to “invest aggressively” in building out its “global graph” that helps it anonymously identify people as they switch between devices.
While the primary application of Drawbridge is within advertising, the company is also looking to expand into new areas such as website personalization and fraud detection.
The company’s CEO is unusual in ad tech, not only for being a woman, but for her background: She is a former planetary scientist and one of the instruments she helped design during her PhD is currently on the NASA New Horizons spacecraft mission to Pluto.
CEO: Bruce Falck
Estimated revenue: We estimate between $100 million and $150 million
Total funding to date: $152.5 million.
Comment: Turn went through a big transition in 2015 and brought its new CEO, Falck, on board last September to help realign the business to focus on brand relationships.
Turn claims to be the only independent ad tech company that combines a DSP, DMP, and an analytics platform.
CEO: Yoav Izhar-Prato
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $100 million and $120 million net
Total venture funding: $49.7 million, according to CrunchBase.
Comment: Kenshoo is based in Tel-Aviv and is best-known for handling billions of dollars worth of search, local, and social media advertising spend.
The company is a Facebook Marketing Partner and in 2015 was granted initial access to the Instagram Ads API.
CEO: Ragy Thomas
Estimated revenue: Forbes reported Sprinklr surpassed $100 million in annualized revenue last fall (without indicating gross/net), so we of course expect more than $100 million this year as an apples-to-apples comparison. We couldn’t get closer to a net estimate.
Total funding to date: $134 million
Comment: Sprinklr is an enterprise software platform that lets brands like Nike, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase manage their organic and paid-for social media marketing in one place.
In the past 12 months, the company has made a number of acquisitions: Social visualization platform Postano; location-specific text analytics software firm NewBrand; and audience segmentation platform Booshaka.
Last March, Thomas told the Wall Street Journal Sprinklr’s $1.17 billion valuation was a “very conservative multiple of our recurring annual revenue.”
CEO: Bill Lonergan
Estimated revenue: The company said it was on track to achieve $200 million in revenue in 2015, although this is likely a gross revenue number. We were unable to estimate an accurate net revenue figure.
Total funding to date: $87.5 million
Comment: Last June, RadiumOne secured $54 million in Series C financing, which it said it planned to use in order to open up more officies across Asia-Pacific and Europe, expand its data and platform technology, and fund more sales and marketing hires.
The company says it achieved record growth and net profitability in 2015. It seems like RadiumOne is finally shaking off some of the negativity associated with the ousting of its former CEO and founder.
CEO: Mike Baker
Estimated revenues: The company told TechCrunch its revenues were $167.5 million in 2014, up from $100 million in 2013, without indicating net or gross. We were unable to get closer to a 2015 net revenue estimate.
Total funding to date: $65.8 million
Comment: DataXu (pronounced “data zoo”) is a marketing analytics platform that works with more than 700 brands around the world.
The company tells us it has seen topline revenue growth of more than 350% in the past three years and that it is profitable.
In January this year, British pay-TV provider Sky invested $10 million in the company.
CEO: Ben Barokas
Estimated revenue: Pre-revenue
Total funding to date: $10 million
Comment: Often referred to as an “ad blocker-blocker,” Sourcepoint is actually attempting to become the “Spotify for digital content,” offering publishers a toolkit to attempt to thwart the threat of ad blocking.
Sourcepoint’s investors are the “who’s who” of the ad tech community: Former Millennial Media CEO Michael Barrett, MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadski, Moat CEO Jonah Goodhart, and LiveIntent CEO Matt Keiser. Spark Capital, Foundry Group, Greycroft, and Accel Partners Europe, are also investors.
CEO: Sean Blanchfield
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $50 million and $100 million net
Total funding to date: $3.3 million
Comment: PageFair has helped move ad blocking up the global agenda this year, thanks to its report (published in partnership with Adobe), which estimated there are 198 million people using ad blockers worldwide.
As well as providing technology to help around 5,000 publishers establish the size of their ad blocking audience and find a way to serve non-intrusive ads to them, PageFair has also helped coordinate roundtables in the US and Europe between agencies, publishers, advertisers, ad blockers, browsers, and consumer groups to help address some of the issues ad blocking has raised.
Estimated revenues: We estimate near $100 million net
Total funding to date: $35 million
Comment: In 2015, WideOrbit, which was primarily known as a traffic software company for TV broadcasters and cable networks, launched its programmatic TV product.
The company claims no other programmatic TV platform matches WideOrbit’s scale: It can reach 80% of US households and 20 of the top 25 media markets.
©Max Threlfall Photo
CEO: Tim Koschella
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $90 million and $100 million net
Total funding to date: $20 million
Comment: AppLift is a Berlin-based company that helps mobile app advertisers acquire and re-engage users. It works with the biggest players in mobile apps including King, Zynga, and Glu Mobile.
AppLift says it marked 170% “profitable growth” in 2015. It also acquired Singapore-based mobile demand-side platform Bidstalk.
CEO: Aaron Bell
Estimate revenues: We estimate between $140 million and $160 million net
Total funding to date: $89 million
Comment: AdRoll claims to be the most widely-adopted independent programmatic advertising platform, with more than 25,000 customers.
In the past year, the company has launched opt-in data co-operative AdRoll Prospecting, launched email retargeting service SendRoll, and the company expanded into Japan.
CEO: Naveen Tewari
Estimated revenues: $400 million gross revenue in 2014 (the last time figures were published). We were unable to estimate an accurate net figure.
Total funding to date: $225.1 million
Comment: InMobi is an India-based mobile-only ad network that claims to reach more than 1.6 billion active users.
In 2015, InMobi launched a new product and service recommendation platform called Mipp, which the company says is helping transform mobile advertising into a discovery experience so users can be inspired to buy items on impulse.
CEO: Shawn Riegsecker
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $130 million and $150 million net.
Total funding to date: $52.5 million
Comment: Centro, which sells digital media management software, had a busy year. The company raised $30 million in Series B funding, led by Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds. It also acquired GraphScience, an automated social ad-buying platform.
The company did also layoff around 4% of its workforce in December, but it said these happened because it wants to remain profitable (Centro says it has been profitable in every year since 2001, except for 2008) and sustain its tech investments.
CEO: Bertrand Quesada
Estimated revenues: We estimate more than $140 million net
Funding to date: $55 million
Comments: Teads is a video advertising specialist that claims to have invented the outstream video advertising format. The company says it grew revenue 50% year-on-year in 2015, with a big focus on programmatic revenue, which grew 300% in the period.
We also hear they’re a hot acquisition target, possibly from a public company.
CEO: Scott Knoll
Estimated revenues: We estimate north of $100 million
Total funding to date: $56 million
Comment: Advertisers use Integral Ad Science to ensure they are forking out on ads that are in safe media environments with actual humans (rather than bots) viewing them.
The New York-based company was listed as the fast-growing company in North America on the Deloitte Technology 500, Crain’s Fast 50, Inc’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, and Forbes’ list of America’s most promising companies last year.
In addition, the company also raised $27 million in funding.
CEO: Konrad Feldman
Estimated revenue: We estimate between $150 million and $200 million net
Total funding to date: $65.3 million, according to CrunchBase
Comment: In 2015, Quantcast launched its first programmatic brand solutions suite, which includes new products Search Powered Audiences and Audience Grid.
The company also hired the former CIO and CFO of DoubleClick Stephen Collins as its president and CFO and Google’s former director of people operations Sandra McDevitt as its VP of people and places.
CEO: Tomer Bar-Zeev
Estimated revenues: We estimate $250 million to $350 million
Total funding to date: $105 million
Comments: IronSource is a Tel Aviv-based mobile ad tech company, offering user acquisition, conversion, monetization, analytics, and optimization tools.
In September last year, IronSource announced a merger with mobile ad firm Supersonic, which it says formed the “largest independent mobile monetization and marketing platform offering real scale.” IronSource claims to reach more than 800 million unique mobile users a month.
IronSource closed a $100 million round of funding in February last year, which was reported to value the company at $1 billion and set it up for going public — although that IPO has not yet materialized.
CEO: Yaron Galai
Estimated revenue: We estimate around $500 million gross revenue (we have not seen a published net figure or been able to obtain an accurate one)
Total funding to date: $144 million
Comments: Outbrain is one of the biggest content recommendation platforms.
This year, the company acquired Los Angeles-based software firm Revee to help launch a new product that claims it will let publishers know exactly how much individual articles are generating in revenue, in real time.
Outbrain also launched a chatbot that lets publishers launch apps on messaging platforms, with CNN signing up as its first partner.
CEO: Adam Singolda
Estimated revenues: We estimate around $500 million gross revenue (we have not seen a published net figure or been able to obtain one)
Total funding to date: Around $160 million
Comments: Taboola is transitioning from being a pureplay content recommendation service, to a platform company that provides publishers with tools to personalize pages to each reader and serve native ads.
The company signed big deals with the likes of AOL and MSN in the past 12 months and it raised a multi-million dollar funding round from China’s largest search engine, Baidu.
On the content recommendation front, Taboola says it now reaches 1 billion users a month across desktop and mobile.
Disclosure: Business Insider is a Taboola customer
CEO: Scott Ferber
Estimated revenues: Last we heard (in 2014), it was nearing $300 million, although that is likely a gross revenue figure. We were unable to estimate an accurate net revenue figure.
Total funding to date: ~$130 million
Comment: This year, Videology has been making a great amount of noise about the work it is doing to stamp fraud out of the ad market — the company said it had blocked more than 28 billion fraudulent bot requests, in partnership with White Ops.
The company did also let go of around 8% of its workforce in January as it reorganized the business around its enterprise and TV deals, AdExchanger reported. In the last year it signed enterprise partnerships with the likes of Adobe, AT&T AdWorks, Sky, and Everyday Health.
CEO: Bill Wise
Estimated revenue: We estimate $200 million net
Total funding to date: $40.5 million
Comment: In June 2015, Mediaocean sold a majority stake of the business to Vista Equity Partners, in a deal that valued the firm at around $720 million.
Highlights of the past year include acquiring BCC AdSystems in Australia to support its Asia Pacific business, partnering with Rubicon Project to offer a automated guranteed solution for its direct advertising business, and hiring industry veteran Ramsey McGrory as its CRO.
CEO: Jonah Goodhart
Estimated revenues: We estimate $50 million to $100 million
Total funding to date: $67.5 million
Comment: Moat provides third-party viewability, measurement, and analytics across platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Plus, it also has a close partnership with Nielsen, which is the company that provides TV ratings data in the US and is increasingly providing online video ratings too.
Away from advertising, Moat also provides content analytics across a number of major platforms.
When we asked ad tech insiders who should appear on our list, Moat’s name kept coming up.
CEO: Jeff Green
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $100 million to $150 million net
Total funding to date: $252.5 million
Comment: AdExchanger claims The Trade Desk grew faster than “probably any other DSP in recent years,” thanks to its relentless focus on agencies. Inc Magazine pegs its three-year review growth rate at almost 7,000% and Forbes ranked The Trade Desk at #9 in its list of “America’s Most Promising Companies.”
In May this year, the company raised a $125 million credit facility led by Citibank.
CEO: Tim Cadogan
Estimated revenues: We estimate between $180 million to $200 million net
Total funding to date: $75 million
Comments: In 2015, OpenX said it generated $140 million in net revenue, up 40% year-on-year. The company says it was also profitable and marked 100% year-on-year mobile revenue growth.
Another highlight of last year was ranking top of Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index — which rates exchanges based on the quality of their ad inventory — for six consecutive months.
CEO: Joe Zawadski
Estimated revenues: We estimate more than $250 million net
Total funding to date: $200 million
Comment: MediaMath is a US-based demand-side platform, which launched in 2007. Last year, the company was named in the Deloitte Technology Fast500, which ranks tech firms based on their revenue growth.
MediaMath acquired Spree7, a German programmatic ad company in November last year.
In August the company appointed new execs and board members and was said to be “looking at all options, including going public and staying private,” AdAge reported. Business Insider hears a number of public companies have eyed up MediaMath for a potential acquisition, but it sounds as though the company wants to remain independent for now.
CEO: Brian O’Kelley
Estimated revenues: We estimate more than $250 million net
Total funding to date: $250 million
Comments: Highlights of 2015 included the acquisitions of YieldEx and Real Media Latin America. AppNexus also became Microsoft’s programmatic ad platform in 57 markets around the world.
More recently, AppNexus announced it was partnering with video ad tech firms including Teads and StickyAds to create an “outstream open video marketplace” — selling video ads that appear and automatically play (without sound) on a page as a user scrolls through an article.
WPP often name-checks AppNexus in its earnings. The advertising holding company made a big investment in AppNexus in 2014.
We looked at the following factors when we adjust our rankings and publish a new version of the list:
Revenue: This is one of the most important factors in our ranking. Companies with robust businesses have revenues they can talk about in dollars (not blind percentage “growth” claims). Companies that are modest about their revenues are usually modest for good reason.
We tried as hard as possible to obtain net revenue estimates. We are not auditors and we don’t have access to the companies’ accounts, so we have had to rely on our own reporting, that of other publications, estimates from industry experts, and figures given by the companies themselves. This ranking shouldn’t be looked at as an exact science, but more a temperature check of how companies are performing.
Total employees: Companies tend to hire more people because they’re handling more business. Headcount is a good proxy for growth — although having too many employees can drive down margins and veer companies away from their core focus.
Funding: Investors tend to want their money back. So companies that have taken a lot of investment funding are under greater pressure to IPO/exit than those that have not. VC investment is also an indicator (although not the indicator) of confidence in a company.
Reputation: It’s great that some companies like to grow quietly without the distraction of the media spotlight (some even requested we didn’t put them in the list) — unfortunately that means we’re less likely to know about them.
But, as previously mentioned, we also asked industry experts for their suggestions on which companies should feature, so we could get a good mixture of those companies with a good PR machine and those that are a little more off-the-radar.
Inevitably, we will miss a few companies that should have been on the list — but we hope this is a good reflection of some of the most exciting startups in this space.