25 Booming AdTech Startups To Watch In 2021

by Josh Howarth - March 20, 2021

The advertising technology sector had an eventful 2020. The pandemic caused many advertisers to curtain their ad spending. Or temporary halt ad spending entirely.

Despite that, 51% of digital advertisers plan to increase their ad budgets in 2021. The industry is poised for a big comeback in 2021 and beyond.

Here are fast-growing startups looking to ride this trend.

1. Trufan

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5-year search growth: 1500%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: Toronto, Canada

Funding: $3.6M (Seed round)

What they do: Trufan gives brands and influencers a platform to distribute content directly to their fans and audience. The platform has over 16,000 paid and free users.

2. Brave

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5-year search growth: 257%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $42M (Undisclosed)

What they do: Brave is a fast, safe online web browser. They plan to provide web users with better privacy features while searching compared to market leaders (like Google Chrome). Brave is also looking to change the ad ecosystem with micropayments and revenue share agreements for publishers. Most recently, they acquired web browser startup Tailcat to expand their reach.

3. VidMob, Inc.

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5-year search growth: 314%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $121.6M (Series C)

What they do: VidMob is an online video creation platform specifically geared towards social media ads. Some of Vidmod’s noteworthy clients include Audi and Facebook.

4. AcuityAds

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5-year search growth: 5900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2009

Location: Toronto, Canada

Funding: $89.1M (Post-IPO equity)

What they do: AcuityAds provides real-time bidding on digital ads. The platform allows advertisers to run highly targeted programmatic ad campaigns. AcuityAds recently expanded its offering with the recent launch of Illumin. This new automation platform is designed to allow advertisers to better track customer journeys and conversions.

5. Podcorn

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5-year search growth: 6600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Los Angeles, California

Funding: $2.2M (Seed round)

What they do: Popcorn is a platform that connects brands and podcasters for advertising and sponsorship opportunities. Popcorn was acquired for $14.6M by Entercom Communications in March 2021.

6. Adverty

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5-year search growth: 200%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2016

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Funding: $3.8M (Convertible note)

What they do: Adverty is an immersive in-game advertising platform. Their proprietary BrainImpression algorithm determines the best ad placements for optimal viewability for in-game advertising. They recently struck a deal with Verizon to continue expanding into new ad formats.

7. Tubi

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5-year search growth: 323%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $26M (Series D)

What they do: Tubi is an ad-supported video on demand platform. The platform connects buyers with external demand-side advertising platforms. Tubi currently has over 33 million monthly active users.

8. Kevel

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5-year search growth: 104%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Funding: $12.2M (Series A)

What they do: Kevel, formerly known as Adzerk, is a development platform for building custom ad servers. Developers can build these custom APIs to add native ads, sponsored listings, and other promotions directly to their website or app.

9. Cosmose

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5-year search growth: 150%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Shanghai, China

Funding: $27M (Series A)

What they do: Cosmose uses big data to analyze and predict offline shopping behaviors by customers. They also allow retailers to tie together offline sales with online ad campaigns.

10. Acast

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5-year search growth: 176%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Funding: $126.2 (Series unknown)

What they do: Acast is a podcast platform that has built-in advertising and membership capabilities. Their most recent development is a dynamic insertion technology designed to deliver podcast ads based on location, time, and personal data.

11. Infosum

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5-year search growth: 4400%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Basingstoke, United Kingdom

Funding: $23.1M (Series A)

What they do: Infosum is software for creating a “decentralized data ecosystem”. In other words, it allows advertisers to share data securely with vendors and partners.

12. Freewheel

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5-year search growth: 21%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2007

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $47.6M (Series E)

What they do: Freewheel is a platform for delivering video ad campaigns (with a focus on TV). Their growth is evident with a recent acquisition of their own in Beeswax.

13. IronSource

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5-year search growth: 180%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Funding: $555M (Private Equity Round)

What they do: IronSource is a mobile application management platform. They enable app creators to monetize and manage their apps efficiently. IronSource’s Ad Network connects developers and advertisers to deliver in-app advertisements. IronSource has its sights set on a massive IPO in 2021 too.

14. Scalarr

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5-year search growth: 6700%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Wilmington, Delaware

Funding: $7.5M (Series A)

What they do: Scalarr is a machine learning platform built to detect ad fraud. They offer three core products to integrate with mobile platforms. These products track ad performance, autoblock fraud, and identify opportunities. Scalarr says they detect over 60% more ad fraud than any competitor.

15. Permutive

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5-year search growth: 7300%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2013

Location: London, UK

Funding: $30M (Series B)

What they do: Permutive is an advertising data management platform for publishers. It gives users access to secure privacy, scalable analytics, and live targeting features. The goal of Permutive is to enable more intuitive first-party data for publishers. Growing third-party data regulations is making this a growing niche.

16. Prizeout

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5-year search growth: 4100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $12.5M (Series B)

What they do: Prizeout is a digital gift card marketplace. They work with brands looking to grow and offer gift cards on their behalf to push sales. Gift cards are incentivized with exclusive deals to entice consumers.

17. Vidsy

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5-year search growth: 1500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: London, UK

Funding: $5.9M (Series A)

What they do: Vidsy is software designed to build compelling video-based ads. In addition to their tech, Vidsy also offers help with creative strategy. Vidsy currently works with 5,000 creators in 70 different countries.

18. Zeotap

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5-year search growth: 93%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Berlin, Germany

Funding: $81.2M (Series C)

What they do: Zeotap is a customer intelligence platform designed to help advertisers predict customer behavior. Zeoptap has experienced over 400% in YoY revenue growth.

19. Ogury

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5-year search growth: 215%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: Paris, France

Funding: $92M (Series C)

What they do: Ogury is a mobile brand advertising firm. Specifically, they have an advertising engine with active insights, delivery, and user engagement features. This stack is optimized to provide optimal advertising campaigns for brands. The company had an explosive 2020, growing its annual revenue to over $100M.

20. Sourcepoint

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5-year search growth: 7400%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $43M (Series unknown)

What they do: Sourcepoint offers up an arsenal of tools to protect user privacy, manage compliance, and grow revenues. A new “privacy lens” feature will give advertisers more unique and secure data to work with.

21. Woowa Brothers

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5-year search growth: 99x+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Funding: $482.8M (Series G)

What they do: Woowa Bros is a Korean startup with a portfolio of apps and services designed to maximize ad ROI. With recent investments, Woowa Bros plans to expand into international markets.

22. Taboola

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5-year search growth: 91%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2007

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $160M (Series unknown)

What they do: Taboola is a content discovery platform. Thousands of publishers (including USA Today, MSN and Bloomberg) currently use Taboola to help monetize their content.

23. StackAdapt

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5-year search growth: 71%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2013

Location: Toronto, Canada

Funding: $1.6M (Series A)

What they do: StackAdapt is a programmatic advertising platform. In other words, a demand-side platform with a sizable inventory of native ads. In addition to ad inventory, StackAdapt’s customers get access to an array of tools including ad insights, reporting, and campaign management.

24. DoubleVerify Inc.

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5-year search growth: 70%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2008

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $549.5 (Private Equity)

What they do: DoubleVerify is an ad measurement and analytics platform. DoubleVerify puts an emphasis on identifying and fighting ad fraud.

25. Megaphone

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5-year search growth: 300%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2015

Location: Washington, D.C.

Funding: None

What they do: Megaphone is a podcast platform with built-in advertising capabilities. The company was recently acquired by Spotify for $225 million.

Conclusion

The pandemic caused traditional digital ad spending to decline. However, connected TV (CTV) and mobile advertising saw a large increase in growth.

As you saw, many of the AdTech startups on this list are CTV streaming providers and mobile app advertising platforms.

Another trend we saw was an emphasis on ad fraud and data protection.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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