The Non-Techie Guide to Ad Tech

Not long ago, the famed ad-tech landscape slide by Luma Partners’ Terry Kawaja came up in a conversation with an executive. He sighed. “I love Terry,” he told me. “He made a nice slide, but I just wish we’d stop talking about it.” There was an expletive too.

But the slide persists as an example of the ad-tech industry’s vibrancy and its complexity. You know it has staying power when it spawns spinoffs, which Kawaja did with equally complex slides for the mobile, social, video, gaming and other sectors. Unlike advertisers who can pass off this mess to their agencies to figure out, publishers are pretty much on their own to navigate the sea of alphabet soup in the world of DSPs, DMPs, AMPs all doing RTB. It’s pretty easy to get lost in the weeds.

There’s now an attempt by publisher tech platform Audience Amplify to simplify Kawaja’s original work by putting it into “plain English” for publishers. The effort takes some radical steps, such as recasting demand-side platforms as “build me great technology to boost marketing ROI.” DMPs and audience aggregators are morphed into “offer me more targeting options.” It’s reminiscent of the approach taken by the Help line of home remedies.

Seni Thomas, the chief executive of Audience Amplify, told me the project came out of finding in talking to publishers that “there are too many assumptions as to what the pain points are” among the many tech vendors out there.

Audience Amplify is using the recast chart to begin a project that will catalog the various publisher-side tools out there, as the Luma slide is heavily weighted toward the buy side, where most of the action has been. The idea of the database is to eventually become a sort of Yelp for publisher tools, according to Thomas, with the ability of fellow publishers to praise and call BS on some of the claims put out there by vendors.

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