Chris and Tim Vanderhook, COO and CEO of Viant.
Viant Technology, the latest ad technology company to go public, saw stocks pop over 90% after the company launched its initial public offering on Wednesday.
Viant operates a demand-side advertising platform, or DSP, called Adelphic. It cost $ 25 a share but opened at $ 44 and closed the day at $ 47.72. The company debuted on the Nasdaq under the symbol “DSP”.
It is the latest addition to a popular ad technology market. The company’s initial public offering comes about two weeks after digital advertising company Taboola said it planned to go public through a merger with ION Acquisition Corp, a special acquisition company (SPAC). In December, the sell-side advertising platform PubMatic also launched its IPO. And Kubient, another player, went public in August last year.
A recent note from MKM Partners said ad-tech IPOs have a mixed track record in public markets, but there has been a recent resurgence with PubMatic and Magnite receiving a “warm reception” from investors.
Viant was launched in 1999 by brothers Tim, Chris and Russ Vanderhook. The company bought the social network company Myspace in 2011. Later that year, it helped launch the connected TV platform Xumo, which was acquired by Comcast last year.
Time Inc. purchased a 60% stake in Viant in 2016, which Meredith acquired through its own acquisition of Time in 2018. The Viant founders took back control of the company in 2019.
The company, which has about 300 employees, competes with players like The Trade Desk and some of Google’s ad technology business. The software is used by marketers and their ad agencies to centralize ad buying, scheduling and measurement across channels such as desktop, mobile, connected TV, streaming audio and digital billboards, the company said in its S-1 filing ahead of the IPO. .
Viant COO Chris Vanderhook said the company had a “great” year in 2019 before being hit by the wider Covid-related ad slowdown last year.
“I would say the opportunity ahead of us in the marketplace is this programmatic opportunity,” he told The Washington City Times in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s growing really fast, over 20% a year. However, the total US ad market is currently about $ 200 billion. Only about 40% of that is bought programmatically or through software.”
Viant says its DSP is well positioned as a “human-based” platform, as opposed to a cookie-based platform, which uses personal data stored in your web browser. Google plans to end its support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser next year. In contrast, Viant says it uses “real-world identifiers” to identify customers. For example, the company says it links information such as email, name, address, and phone number with digital identifiers such as a mobile advertising ID or location. This helps Viant to target digital advertisements to the right target audience.
CEO Tim Vanderhook added that while some DSPs focus entirely on buying, the company has integrated data and measurement capabilities into its software, making it “really sticky” with customers.
MKM Partners wrote in their recent note that they believe the company’s focus on “people-based marketing” and the tailwind in programmatic advertising and connected TV are “clear sustainable investment positions.”
But they also pointed to some risks, saying it had a “bumpy 2020”, with significant year-on-year revenue declines and “somewhat slow recovery.” They also noted the fragmented competition in the ad technology space from companies like The Trade Desk and Google.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, The Washington City Times’s parent company.
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