With online advertising slated to outpace print this year, the pressure is on to make those ads pay. Among the hottest areas in the ad world are digital start-ups that cater to advertisers' needs to better target online ads to specific audiences.
Attendance at the San Francisco iteration of ad:tech, a digital marketing conference held in nine locations around the world each year, has more than doubled since 2006, indicating that tech start-up folks in Silicon Valley are moving beyond gaming and social media into advertising.
"The entire start-up ecosystem is exploding," says Brad Berens, chief content officer for ad:tech. "And the vast majority of consumer-facing start-ups are ad tech start-ups."
Aside from search, the jury is still out on what platforms, formats and technologies work best for online ads. The recent decision of General Motors to pull its ads from Facebook opened up a controversy about the effectiveness of social media advertising. Most experts say consumers will increasingly be targeted on mobile devices, but few understand how to advertise on this platform.