In 2013, I founded my first advertising technology company. The team and I had developed some novel technology and our goal was to make banner ads, something that was often look down on, more effective.
We had no experience in advertising but came from strong math, engineering, and computer science backgrounds.
Over the next five years we became highly knowledgable in digital advertising. We ran all types of campaigns for thousands of advertisers in the process building attribution models, ad servers, data management systems, programmatic bidders, cross device solutions, and the list goes on. However, the thing we learned more than all of that, was how the ad business operates financially.
It turns out that one thing nearly every company has is an advertising budget, and those ad budgets tend to be large. Moreover, with the rise of advertising platforms like Google, AdRoll, Facebook, Mailchimp, nearly anyone can sell ads. As a result, this created a perfect storm.
Now any company looking to increase revenues, whether that is a newspaper business, a popular app, software company, or even some guy in his parents basement, they can all claim to be digital gurus promising great results for your ad campaigns. While the unfortunate truth is that those ad dollars start to get divided up among a daisy chain of subcontractors and white labeled platforms until there is only about a quarter of each dollar left to actually spend on advertising.
But wait, if such few dollars are actually being spent on advertising, why does the reporting and website analytics that I receive look so good? The short answer, fancy math and statistics. (If you want the long answer, i'm always willing to hop on a call.)
Don't get me wrong, digital advertising works and can drive great returns for advertisers. However advertisers are on a very different playing field than the vendors, platforms, and agencies that they entrusted. We founded Spill to fix this. Advertisers need to tools and transparency to understand what is really going on behind the scenes. There are a lot of great vendors, agencies, and platforms out there but as President Ronald Reagan would say “Trust But Verify.”
Jordan Bentley, Founder