A Marketer’s Guide To Ad Tech Consultants, 2018 Edition

by Sarah Sluis and Alison Weissbrot

Even the most sophisticated marketers need assistance crossing the Lumascape – or just figuring out what the heck to do with all their data.

Since AdExchanger wrote its initial Guide to Ad Tech Consultants three years ago, new companies have emerged and those previously featured have added new areas of expertise as market demands changed.

The following, in alphabetical order, is an updated guide to consultancies that can help bring light to your data and mar tech strategies.

You can also click on the name of each company below to jump directly to its profile.

Other ad tech consultants include Infinitive, Labmatik and Sparrow Advisers.

When Rob Rasko co-founded 614 Group six years ago, the company originally focused on outsourced brand-safety compliance. Since then, the consultancy has expanded to offer strategy and implementation support across the tech stack, as well as custom research and events.

“We do strategic and tactical work in one place,” Rasko said. “We help clients with their road map, and once they have it, we help them execute as well.”

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Fifty percent of clients are publishers, such as Condé Nast. Another 25% of clients are ad tech, such as NYAX, and the remainder are ad agencies, including IPG Mediabrands.

What is 614 Group’s specialty?

“Our specialty is infrastructure – the guts of the systems,” Rasko said. The consultancy will assess if a technological change makes business sense, and then it helps with strategy and selection to implementation. “We support the tech stack from design to implementation.”

In addition, 614 Group produces four events each year and executes custom events for clients. It also produces research and content for clients.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

614 Group doesn’t execute media buys.

But it does make tech recommendations across a client’s needs, including CRM and billing systems, order management, brand-safety tools, business intelligence and ad serving.

“We are full-stack, from pitch to pay or quote to cash,” Rasko said.

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. Fourteen full-time employees work alongside a team of 25 freelancers.

It expects to work with 30 to 40 clients in 2018. Over the history of the business, it’s accrued 65 to 70 clients, many of them on monthslong or yearlong engagements.

Accenture Interactive (AI) is the digital unit launched within Accenture in 2009, built through acquisition of small design shops. AI is led by ex-Omnicom and IPG exec Brian Whipple.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Both. AI helps clients transform their business models and customer experiences for digital. Engagements on both sides are typically multiyear.

What is Accenture Interactive’s specialty?

It’s all about customer experience. Tapping into the scale of its parent company, AI builds consumer-facing digital interactions for brands. AI can also help clients take programmatic in-house and integrate marketing systems.

“We’re not really an advertising group,” Whipple said in a previous AdExchanger interview. “We’re going after larger, transformative pieces of work.”

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Yes. For in-housing assignments, AI helps clients select vendors and implement their marketing and programmatic stacks.

While often referred to as a digital agency, AI doesn’t offer media buying as a service. However, working in the customer experience realm, it often integrates programmatic into projects. And when clients take programmatic in-house, AI offers a managed buying service.

“Media buying is part of the overall ecosystem,” said Matt Gay, chief operating officer and general manager at Accenture Interactive, in a previous interview. “If and when it makes sense for our clients, and if they want us to be more involved in that, then we will certainly evaluate.”

Boutique or big firm?

Huge. Last summer, AdAge called AI the largest digital agency by revenue. Although it was built through acquisition, AI operates under a single P&L rather than a holding-company model.

Clients span 20 verticals and include 72 of the Fortune 100. Key industries are CPG, media and communications, financial services, health care and public services.

AI has 18,000 employees across seven markets.

Founded by Emily Del Greco in 2016, Del Greco Solutions bridges the gap between high-level strategy and hands-on-keyboards implementation. Del Greco Solutions builds strategies and stays on to make sure the plans work.

Del Greco’s background includes time at Google and a startup, with roles in sales, strategy, marketing and fundraising. Her instincts as a salesperson inform her consulting. “A lot of my recommendations come down to, ‘Would this sell if I were in a conversation with a customer? If I were closing this deal, would it work?’”

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Even split. Clients include ad agencies, traditional and digital media companies, tech companies and investment firms.

What is Del Greco Solutions’ specialty?

The consultancy aims to “demystify ad tech,” which entails finding new opportunities for clients, transforming sales and retraining employees as business needs change. Del Greco also recommends strategies for deploying software and developing service models.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Del Greco Solutions focuses on strategy, sales, operations and staffing. It doesn’t buy media.

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. Del Greco is the sole full-time employee, but she assembles teams of freelancers for each client engagement.

Engagements last from a few days to several months. Del Greco Solutions did not disclose its number of clients.

Founded in 2015, Jounce Media helps digital marketers develop strong measurement with the belief that once marketers solve measurement, they can solve most of their other problems. Founder Chris Kane logged time at DSP Turn and as chief of staff at AOL before striking out on his own.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Seventy-five percent of Jounce’s clients are on the sell side, which includes publishers and tech companies, such as Pinterest. These clients account for 40% of revenue, mostly from short, educational workshops.

Jounce’s buy-side customers, including RetailMeNot, account for 25% of the business by volume, but 60% of the revenue. The consulting team works closely to transform marketing and provides hands-on-keyboards support.

What is Jounce’s specialty?

For the buy side, it’s improving measurement. On the sell side, Jounce’s “Little Black Book of Ads” series, which Kane uses as a foundation for educational workshops, helps sellers at companies like Pinterest understand the market better.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Jounce Media doesn’t buy media, preferring to let agencies handle marketer budgets.

But it does take over the role that agency analytics teams might have. Kane believes that media buying and media measurement need to be separated for true impartiality. The consultancy also provides the services layer to marketers using attribution technology and organizes data to make it actionable in other platforms.

Jounce also performs tech assessments. Instead of just helping with the RFP, Jounce “test drives” DSPs or attribution vendors.

Boutique or big firm?

Jounce has four full-time employees and 10 freelancers, and it plans to grow organically as the business grows. Jounce hires hands-on-keyboard practitioners, many with experience working at a DSP or agency trading desk.

It has 31 clients, and about half are active at any one time.

Buy-side customers often sign yearlong contracts where Jounce provides measurement support and organizes data. Sell-side clients engage for a month at a time on short-term projects.

MarketMakers was launched in 2013 by Celeny Da Silva, who has worked across the industry for Dmexco, Advertising Week, Index Exchange, Teads, HookLogic, Rubicon, eBay, Moat and IAB Brazil.

The firm helps brands (10%), pubs (20%) and vendors (70%) transform their organizations for digital and grow in new markets.

For brands, that means a full-stack technology and procurement assessment. Pubs get assistance revamping their digital sales and B2B marketing strategies, and tech providers get new go-to-market and execution strategies as well as an assessment of their marketing org.

What is MarketMakers’ specialty?

It’s all about helping clients maximize marketing spend. MarketMakers retools clients’ digital strategies and marketing stacks to drive revenue growth in new markets. Average client engagement is one year.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

MarketMakers assesses clients’ media and marketing stacks and makes recommendations to drive long-term efficiencies. The firm also looks at organization design to leverage marketing tools effectively, both in the short and long term.

MarketMakers doesn’t buy media.

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. MarketMakers has four full-time employees and contractors across the US, UK and Brazil. However, it has relationships with key decision-makers across the big six agency hold companies, Fortune 100 brands and comScore 1000.

The firm also has relationships with industry organizations such as Advertising Week, Festival of Media, Dmexco and IAB Brazil.

Matter More was founded at the beginning of 2017 by Tracey Scheppach and Steve Murtos, two former Publicis executives who saw an opportunity to help data-driven marketers who hadn’t yet entered the advanced TV and video market use their data to execute buys.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

About half of Matter More’s business comes from the buy side, including Williams Sonoma. “They are a very sophisticated data company but had never used video or TV as a strategy. We help companies like this see all the things possible now on TV,” Scheppach said.

Twenty-five percent of Matter More’s business comes from the sell side, “primarily helping programmers bring advanced TV capabilities to market,” Scheppach said. The remaining 25% comes from consulting with other consultancies, Wall Street analysts and vendors.

What is Matter More’s specialty?

On the buy side, Matter More works with clients that have advanced data and targeting capabilities but haven’t done TV because of the cost or perception that it’s not a fit.

For the sell side, tech companies and consultancies, it’s helping influence a still-nascent market.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Matter More advises clients on technology and executes media buys. When buying media, it can partner with a creative agency, like Crow, to customize creative.

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. Besides Matter More’s two founders, the company works with a dozen freelancers depending on the engagement, but Scheppach wants the company to stay small.

It has about a dozen clients, and those on the buy side usually have ongoing engagements, while gigs advising consultants are short.

MediaLink launched its data and technology solutions (DTS) unit in 2014.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Clients span Fortune 100 brands, media companies, holding companies, agencies, vendors and ad tech investors. Short engagements are eight to 12 weeks, and big engagements are annual contracts.

What is MediaLink’s specialty?

DTS builds strategies, assesses vendors and constructs media and measurement models around personalized marketing. That involves connecting data, technology and strategy to media, marketing and content. It might, for example, build and deploy an identity resolution system.

“I’m a strong believer in working from outcomes and translating that into tech and data strategies,” said Mark Wagman, a vice president at MediaLink who oversees DTS.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

MediaLink does not buy media.

But DTS does vet vendors across the publisher, agency and marketer landscape. It then helps clients assemble their marketing tech stacks and build internal strategies.

Boutique or big firm?

MediaLink has 150 employees in seven offices across the US and Europe, with practice areas spanning agency optimization, investor strategy, talent, brand transformation, event strategy, digital and data.

Its DTS unit has 20 people across seven markets.

MediaLink declined to disclose its number of clients.

Prohaska Consulting was founded in 2014 by Matt Prohaska, who has logged time in both ad tech and the publisher side. Despite its programmatic origins, it has rapidly expanded and does sales representation for both the sell and buy sides.

Prohaska’s philosophy as a consultant is to tweak first, then overhaul if necessary. It also believes in simplicity: “We are staunch advocates that there will be one sales team and one buying team that will be transacting programmatic opportunities in the future,” Prohaska said.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Publishers, marketers/agencies and tech companies each constitute 30% of Prohaska’s business. The remaining 10% comes from trade groups and investors.

What is Prohaska’s specialty?

Programmatic consulting accounts for 80% of business.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Tech assessments occur most frequently. The consultancy has made more than 150 recommendations for SSPs, DSPs, DMPs and CDPs.

Prohaska Consulting does not execute media buys. “We intentionally do not go after an agency's business or position ourselves to be the execution arm for bringing programmatic in-house to supplant them, though we have helped brands before with strategy and plans to do that on their own,” Prohaska said.

But the company does help publishers and tech companies sell, part of a growing rep business it’s dubbing Magnify.

Boutique or big firm?

Prohaska Consulting has 11 full-time consultants and an average of 80 freelancers who work across more than 25 cities globally. Twenty percent of its business is outside the US.

It has about 35 to 40 active engagements per month. Average strategy engagements last eight to 16 weeks while sales representative agreements run between six months and two-plus years.

Clients include Under Armour, The Trade Desk, Univision and IAB – and Prohaska has signed 240 clients in 210 weeks.

Promatica was launched in October 2015 by Joe Weaver, who previously held jobs as director of brand strategy at TubeMogul, manager of Mindshare’s trading desk and director of digital at Omnicom Media Group.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Brands make up 70% of Promatica’s revenue, but its roster has expanded to include publishers, agencies, vendors and investors.

Promatica helps brands develop strategy and deploy tech around programmatic, data and brand safety. It also runs trainings and competitive analyses to drive revenue and profitability.

What is Promatica’s specialty?

Programmatic. Brands work with Promatica to implement programmatic strategy and deploy technology to buy media more effectively. Projects range from working with a client’s agency to developing new media-buying strategies or helping brands bring programmatic in-house.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Many of Promatica’s clients are new to programmatic, so assessments are part of the deal. Through a 200-point overview, Promatica looks at vendors by history, office location and near-term future projections. It compares vendors to look for systems integration opportunities.

Promatica buys media for clients and runs data management platforms as a managed service. Each client is assigned a vertical expert as well as an expert in media across traditional, digital and programmatic. Promatica also assigns clients an expert in data management, technology, CRM and analytics.

Promatica said media buying enables it to “manage strategy deployment as it was originally intended versus a hand-off back to another service provider.”

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. Weaver was the firm’s only employee at launch, and Promatica now has three full-time employees. It is currently adding senior level experts, due to last year’s growth. And when it’s working on a project, it taps backend traders and analysts to scale swiftly.

Weaver anticipates having six to eight full time employees by the end of 2018.

Clients span verticals. Promatica has previously worked with L’Oréal, Kimberly-Clark and Johnson & Johnson.

Transparent Partners (formerly Transparent Media Partners) was launched in 2015 by Andrew Swinand, now CEO of Publicis’ Leo Burnett. Brandon Starkoff, a 16-year vet of Starcom MediaVest and an alum of xAd, is now CEO and managing partner.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Buy-side. Clients are Fortune 100 brands developing programmatic strategies and integrating and deploying marketing technology. Engagements last six months to a year.

What is Transparent’s specialty?

Programmatic and mar tech. The consultancy selects platforms, implements strategies and develops processes to make brands more effective programmatic advertisers.

“We’ve seen advertisers make significant capital investments in enterprise technology without being equipped with talent or best practices to fully utilize the tool,” Starkoff said.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Transparent does not buy media, but it performs tech, media and data assessments for clients. It then develops strategies and operating models for using the marketing stack in-house. Training and education set up brands to use the technology in-house on an ongoing basis.

Boutique or big firm?

Boutique. The firm employs 10 people full-time and works with two freelancers. Transparent has 10 active clients today.

Clients span CPG, food and beverage, financial services, hospitality, retail and telecom.

Unbound was formed in June 2013 by Brendan Moorcroft and Quentin George, the brains behind IPG Mediabrands’ trading desk, Cadreon. In 2014, they were joined by Cadreon co-founder Michael Brunick.

Buy-side or sell-side focus?

Two-thirds of Unbound’s clients are brands on the buy side and one-third are on the sell side.

Sixty percent of engagements involve helping brands set up infrastructure to buy media more effectively; 40% are building new businesses around client data assets. In 2015, Unbound helped Target launch the Target Media Network, which makes the retailer’s first-party data available for media buys on its properties.

What is Unbound’s specialty?

Though founded by programmatic pioneers, Unbound’s assignments now include enterprise-level mar tech executions.

The common denominator, however, is data. Unbound’s clients typically need help developing and executing a data strategy, George said.

After developing a strategy based on a client’s existing data assets, for instance, Unbound can architect a marketing stack, review and negotiate with agencies, vendors and partners and optimize marketing campaigns.

Does it make tech recommendations, perform assessments or buy media?

Unbound reviews and recommends vendors and agencies. It also designs media planning and buying processes around that tech, develops the teams that will leverage the stack and delegates tasks between brands and agencies.

“We do hypotheses-driven trial programs,” George said. “We create new trials and nibble our way to transformation.”

Unbound doesn’t have skin in the game with tech providers nor does it do media planning or buying.

“If I am to advise you and I am a horse in the race, that’s not good,” George said.

Boutique or big firm?

Unbound declined to disclose its number of employees or clients.

 

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