2013 Ad Tech IPO Predictions

Everyone loves a public offering! It’s a coming out party for your favorite company, a liquidity event for your shareholders, and a fun opportunity to dress up and ring a bell. Within the ad tech sector there are a surprisingly large number of companies talking about going public in 2013, so here’s a handy preview of the year to come based solely on my unbiased opinions*. Let me know what I got wrong in the comments.

Ad tech IPO candidates in reverse-order of likelihood to go public in 2013:

Update: Totally spaced on Marin, so added them in with Kenshoo.

Criteo: Rumored gross revenue of $500 million and very strong global growth put Criteo in the pole-position for most likely to exit. I had heard the S1 was coming in late-Q1, but, as with everything in this market, that’s probably smoke.

Rubicon: CEO Frank Addante recently declared the company profitable and with Pubmatic in decline and AdMeld in rewrite mode Rubicon has the SSP field largely to itself. Rampant rumors have Rubicon being courted by Yahoo!, but in the absence of a deal a public offering could be in the works. Alternatively, they may want to bulk up their offerings with some M&A of their own to make a more attractive candidate for the markets.

Kenshoo/Marin: I’m not an expert in search advertising, but both Kenshoo and Marin appear to be clear leaders in the space and they’re making noise about a filing in 2013. I’ll give them both the benefit of the doubt. UPDATE: Marin has filed (2/14)

Adap.tv: Video is incredibly hot right now and Adapt.tv has one of the strongest stories in the market. They’ve been able to position themselves as a tech company in the emerging video advertising space, as opposed to Tremor and BrightRoll (below), both of whom are more pigeon-holed as ad networks. (Whether this is a fair characterization is totally irrelevant). Hiring Tim Morse as CFO from Yahoo! is clearly a signal of intent to offer. And, as a side note, all the video companies listed here have much more solid fundamentals than Millennial Media, which the public markets, for some unknown reason, continues to value at $1 billion in market cap.

Tremor/BrightRoll: Going to put both video leaders in the same bucket. Fast-growing video ad networks with healthy margins in a hot space. Not clear if either is big enough to get the attention of Wall Street, so may need to wait for 2014 and/or some M&A to shake up winners from the second-tier.

Turn: 2012 was a break-out year for Turn in the DSP space, and I’ve heard they are transacting something like $400 million in media on behalf of their clients, which would compare very favorably with some of the others on this list. My guess is they need another year of growth and internal maturity before filing.

RocketFuel: By all accounts RocketFuel is growing rapidly as a buy-side ad network/DSP, representing, in my guess, among the top 5 sources of programatic demand. I don’t have a lot of visibility on their numbers, but have heard they’re looking at filing in 2013. Take with a grain of salt.

* - I have excluded my former employer, AppNexus, from this blog post since I can’t comment freely about their business without overstepping confidentiality obligations.