Top 10 Startups Disrupting AdTech

  • 28 March 2017
  • Cas Proffitt

Although ad tech stocks dropped last year, plenty of startups are cropping up, raising funding, and growing steadily according to Lara O’Reilly of Business Insider.

The industry has certainly changed over the past couple decades with the rise of digital and the expectation of personalization from younger generations. Not to mention new services with room for advertising like, the video game streaming website where users can stream their gameplay in real time while interacting with viewers. Last month, got 140.1 million global views according to Quantcast.

New platforms and new media call for the most creative ad tech startups to make much-needed changes.

Only the most creative ad tech companies can carve a niche in the modern advertising world.

These ten innovative ad tech startups are companies to watch in 2017.


AdLyft makes a bold claim—”Advertising is broken.” Of course, anyone who has felt the growing pains of the ad tech industry can agree.

Luckily, AdLyft is also fixing it in disruptive, user-beneficial ways. With them, advertising is less an annoying fact of life for end-users and is instead a fun and rewarding moment of brand engagement. AdLyft incentivizes engagement with interactive advertising that may ask for users to take a picture with a product, dance to a song, etc. It makes monetization easier for brands and advertising more beneficial for users with their incentivization.

AdLyft has done what many have thought impossible—they’ve made advertising fun.


This one is both cool and somewhat terrifying. Faception is a facial personality profiling software that can be used in adtech and beyond—even for industries such as public safety. The use proprietary classifiers to segment users via face analysis by personality traits. For example, they might classify someone as a high-IQ extrovert.

Outside of advertising, they also claim uses in detecting criminals and terrorists for early apprehension of persons of interest. While I can see serious potential for ethical issues, my reading of dystopian novels has no doubt painted my view of such technologies.


In a time when everyone’s on their cell phones, Appodeal is all about “intelligent ad mediation” and “intelligent app monetization.” What sets them apart is their goal to protect their publishers, whereas many mobile ad companies serve predominantly their advertisers.

They offer one-hour integration and immediate payouts, a huge leap beyond the 60 days that most mobile ad tech companies wait to pay.

They help with analysis and matching too, and then offer insights about which types of users earn publishers more.

The safety and support they offer publishers along with quick payments are a much-needed change in the field of mobile advertising.


Texting has huge potential for advertising but is currently still mostly underdeveloped. Consider this, Millennials are so attached to their phones that 20% of us, 1 in 5, check our phones during sex. And that’s a stat from 2013. It’s probably more now.

Knowing the level of face time our phones get, especially texts, it’s wise to leverage that technology for ads in a way that isn’t spammy and entices people to open the messages. You also need a way to reply. Beyond their email services, HandStack is making text advertising easier. They let you “group your replies by keywords and reply to tens of thousands of texts all at once.”


Just like Twitch has grown to a media giant in terms of viewership, so have other video platforms such as Youtube. According to Tinysponsor’s stats, 300 hours of Youtube videos are uploaded every minute. They help both content creators and streamers by taking a “programmatic approach to micro-sponsorship.” Especially within the esports and content creator communities, this will be hugely welcomed and will solve many issues surrounding the distressing sponsors-who-are-really-affiliates trend that has grown into a very nasty beast in those niches.

Of course, Tinysponsor isn’t just limited to gaming content creators, but any influencer on these sorts of video media platforms. They allow publishers to place their brands in front of the right users targeted by the best creators. They even hold funds in escrow to keep all parties honest. Everyone wins.

Tinysponsor is still in beta, and you can sign up on their site here.


Remember that gigantic statistic about Twitch viewership I mentioned earlier—140.1 million global views in a month? Ader is capitalizing on this huge viewership, nd helping streamers capitalize on it too. Ader connects brands to streamers and vice versa so brands get recognition and their content in front of tons of viewers and streamers get paid to present the information to the audiences they’ve amassed. Although it sounds luxurious—getting paid to let people watch you play videogames—streaming is actually a lot of hard work. As someone who has created a site dedicated to teaching people how to make money from video games, I salute companies like Ader.

Ader is on the forefront of a booming but baby industry and their influence in legitimizing both esports and content creation as jobs that provide value by connecting streamers to brands who pay make them hugely disruptive in gaming, media, and the freelance future.


Verticly bridges the gap between online and offline advertising for more effective marketing campaigns. The use a technology they call a “V-ID” to track individuals, their path to purchase including marketing touchpoints, and aggregates that data to help you remarket to existing customers effectively.

They help support brands in the physical world by integrating their pre-existing campaigns with digital, coupons, and more.
With their help, more effective targeting leads to increases in engagement and customer lifetime value.

Crystal Hawk Technologies – “The dark side of AdTech

Crystal Hawk Technologies hasn’t disrupted adtech just yet. They’re a little guy with little information to share.

So, why are we watching? They’re planning to blend SaaS, mobile, and ad tech. Their slogan is “The Dark Side of Adtech.” Plus, they’re growing out of a longtime coder gone “pure tech.” We don’t know much yet, but that’s an intriguing crossover that caught our attention. While we have no guarantees yet, if they grow into what we hope, we want you to be the first to know. Disruption is all about the potential for change, after all.

We’ll find out more soon. Watch this space.


As a marketer, have you ever generated a lead and thought, “Wow, they’re a perfect fit! I wish I could find more people just like them!”? MetaData does that. Your inbound signups turn into automated lead acquisitions because your ads target look-alike audiences. Now that’s disruptive optimization.


AdCoin makes some huge claims including:

  • 5x brand recall
  • 30x message recall
  • 95+% participation rate
  • 100% brand engagement

These are huge claims, and I know of no other ad tech company who makes promises this large. So, how do they work?

AdCoin uses cashless microtransactions to allow publishers to monetize content in a way that doesn’t require personal data, is verified and measurable, and without charging end users anything.

They claim that 54% of users won’t pay for content, but with AdCoin, they don’t have to. Publishers can make money, advertisers get brand recognition, and customers get premium content without having to pay a cent. This is truly disruptive ad technology that solves a longstanding issue for publishers.

Which other adtech companies are you watching in 2017? Let us know in the comments!

About Cas Proffitt

Cas is a B2B Content Marketer and Brand Consultant who specializes in disruptive technology. She covers topics like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and big data, to name a few. Cas is also co-owner of an esports organization and spends much of her time teaching gamers how to make a living doing what they love while bringing positivity to the gaming community.