Can adtech pose a challenge to Google’s dominance?

Can adtech pose a challenge to Google’s dominance?

Google’s stranglehold on the world of adtech has traditionally left little room for new blood in the industry. Coupled with fellow ad juggernaut Facebook, Google garnered 75% of new digital ad spending last year.

But with well over $500 billion spent globally on advertising in 2016, there’s no denying the potential of fresh faces and big players alike to stake their claim versus the likes of Google. Meanwhile, evolving trends in advertising have opened opportunities for fierce competition within the adtech space.

Although history tells us that companies who dare to go head-to-head with Google are doomed to fail, a new wave of adtech companies may very well be staking their claim against the search giant.

Despite misunderstandings by critics, the future of advertising technology is certainly bright given the wealth of adtech companies uncovering innovative ways to reach modern consumers. Between the recent explosion of mobile ads and the new wave of ad-blocking platforms, doing so often seems like an uphill battle.

Understanding the need to evolve and meet the needs of today’s publishers and consumers alike, what are modern adtech companies doing to loosen Google’s grip on the industry?

Who’s leading the fight against Google?

Recent missteps with Google’s own ad recognition platform have provided companies a prime opportunity to strike.

Major players in adtech including AppNexus, MediaMath and LiveRamp have joined forces to tackle Google head-on to focus on “people-based” advertising. Given that Google and Facebook are responsible one-fifth of all ad revenue, there’s certainly money for the taking for companies willing to set themselves apart. If nothing else, this so-called adtech “consortium” spells opportunity for smaller players in the space.

Meanwhile, all eyes are also on Amazon to challenge Google’s dominance. Although certainly not a smaller player in the world of tech, Amazon boasts one of the deepest customer databases imaginable. Although Amazon’s success in adtech is not guaranteed, their decision to throw down the gauntlet against Google is a welcome decision for critics wary of today’s adtech duopoly.

How current adtech companies are setting themselves apart

The name of the game for current adtech companies is not to play copycat against Google, but rather find ways to exploit their limitations. Likewise, the current numbers and functionalities boasted by the emerging adtech consortium of AppNexus, MediaMath and LiveRamp are nothing to scoff at.

Consider how AppNexus, for example, already represents a mainstay in the adtech scene with over 9.3 billion impressions transacted daily representing well over 500 publisher clients. Combining machine learning with endless arrays of data, the company emphasizes consistent updates and ongoing flexibility for ad publishers.

Meanwhile, MediaMath stresses conversations with consumers via ads versus being the loudest voice in the room. MediaMath’s mission to bring a more “human” element back into the advertising world speaks volumes in a day and age so heavily saturated by poorly targeted advertising.

According to MediaMath, the core challenges facing publishers are two-fold: making the most of each impression and using audience data to maximize direct and indirect sales. Through the company’s omnichannel platform and machine learning, MediaMath helps advertisers and publishers deliver relevant ads to their audiences.

This ultimately provides advertisers a more comprehensive overview of their audiences, a must-do for those looking to have meaningful conversations with their customers.

Finally, LiveRamp is looking to put “people first.” LiveRamp’s mission is to deliver relevant and personalized ads to consumers with an emphasis on security. As there are no one-size-fits-all strategies for publishers leveraging ad-tech, person-level data is at the core of LiveRamp’s platform to help meet the needs of consumers on a human level.

Each of these companies has the potential to tap into a base that’s grown wary of Google’s influence on adtech. The common angle between the consortium is crystal clear: ads should put people first.

How other top adtech players are putting people first

Yet the previously noted consortium aren’t the only ones working to give their platforms a more human touch in pursuit of a better adtech experience.

Just look at what companies such as Perion are doing to enhance ads on behalf of brands and publishers. Acknowledging the challenges of capturing consumers’ attention, Perion looks to level the playing field for advertisers fighting against microscopic attention spans.

By emphasizing bold advertising solutions that grab consumers from the word “go,” advertisers have a better chance of breaking through the noise amid crowded competition. Through their brand advertising division Undertone, Perion thrusts audiences into advertising environments which represent the need for advertisers to tap into the opportunities afforded by mobile devices.

And as mobile ad spending skyrockets, publishers and advertisers alike are on the hunt for fresh ways to reach consumers on-the-go. Enter companies such as StartApp who work on the development side with publishers to produce killer mobile ads with in-depth analytics.

Working to be an ad tech pioneer through VR and 360-degree ads, StartApp notes that their native advertisements fit seamlessly into any app. Through smart targeting, they seem to have a keen understanding of user experience as to when, where and why consumers click through their ads.

Again, diversity within the adtech scene spells good news for those looking to see Google drop down a peg.

Where does adtech go from here?

As advertisers continue to fight for the precious attention of consumers, it’s a fascinating time to watch today’s adtech space with so many new faces but cutthroat competition. From new mobile engagement options for publishers to smaller companies bringing the fight to Google, this year is poised to be a massive one as far as digital ads are concerned.

Although Google’s Goliath status in adtech seems cemented today, only time will tell if Google’s challengers will be able to truly change the lay of the land over time.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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