Triggit is focused on the latter. "The way I define it is an ad that fits the look and feel of the publisher site," Coelius said. By this definition, a Google search ad is the original digital native ad.
Triggit employs 60 people, and has raised $18.5 million in venture funding. Its most recent investment was a $7.4 million round in November 2012. It has been working on its native capability for the past eight months. The R&D investment has been millions, but not tens of millions, Coelius said.
The company joins a growing number of companies trying to scale native advertising for programmatic buyers of media, especially those focused on performance goals. Others include AdsNative, TripleLift and Nativo. But what makes its entry a surprise is the fervor with which the company and its CEO pursued the Facebook opportunity up until now.
When did Triggit realize its exclusive positioning around retargeting on Facebook was a mistake?
Coelius rejects the question.
"That's not the way we'd see it," he said. "Our bet on Facebook was awesome. Our advertisers always want more. They'd like more volume and inventory. We've been looking for ways to be able to get them more."
Coelius says Triggit tripled its 2013 gross media revenue compared to 2012 on the back of Facebook Exchange.
AdExchanger previously estimated its 2012 gross billings at $40 million to $60 million and its 2013 billings at $80 million to $100 million, based on public statements the company has made. And the company is on track to double revenue again in 2014. Going with those earlier estimates as a baseline, that would put its gross media revenue this year at $160 million to $200 million. (Update: Coelius says the dollar figure estimates above are too high.)
It has 200 advertiser customers, primarily in the retail and travel sectors, with an emphasis on recurring revenue.
"The retargeting business is like the SaaS business," he said. "It's not IO to IO. They're constantly adjusting and changing things and it's an evergreen budget."
And yet Triggit, along with every other demand-side platform working on Facebook Exchange, has been blocked from buying mobile inventory – inventory Facebook has reserved for its own direct-to-advertiser program. And for players like Triggit, that's a problem.
"Yes, I would hope the leadership at Facebook would be willing to open up," he said. "But for any business you have strategic considerations."
Facebook has evidently made its choice, and so has Triggit.