TripleLift, the ad-tech company that was founded to enable scaled and automated trading of native ad formats for publishers, is taking an investment from Vista Equity Partners to fund its continuing push into connected TV (CTV).

Vista, a enterprise software investment firm with 480 private equity deals under its belt, already owns several leading ad-tech platforms.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, TripleLift co-founder Ari Lewine explains why his company is selling a majority stake to Vista.

Consolidation in CTV

“(CTV) is not a space in the industry where walled gardens and tech giants have control,” Lewine says. “This is an open playing field for independent ad-tech companies like TripleLift to be significant leaders.

“People always use the ‘inning’ analogy from baseball – and I think we’re still in the warm-up in connected TV. This is like online advertising circuit, 1995. We intend to invest very aggressively in connected TV with a highly unique strategy.”

US Connected TV Ad Spending, 2019-2024 (billions, % change, and % of total media ad spending)

From native to TV

TripleLift’s original technology lets a brand can take a single set of creative assets and turn them into tens of thousands of unique native ads, each one tailored to each specific publisher.

To do that, Lewine says TripleLift had to grind down early industry suspicion that native advertising – because it has to be so aligned with content, even bespoke – could ever scale.

But he says Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other major platforms all run, essentially, native ads.

Still, the next act for Lewine and TripleLift is in TV content. The company’s OTT (over-the-top TV) solution has been developing new ad formats for CTV:

  1. Overlay in the lower third of a content stream.
  2. In-action Six AKA ‘Squeeze-back’ – “During a natural break in the programming, we’ll squeeze back the content, play an ad side-by-side. That experience is being used by a lot of the major networks now for sports and the like.”
  3. Brand Insertions – “On a flat surface, like a digital billboard, we’ll insert a picture of a brand into an existing television stream in a post-production way.”
  4. Product Insertion – “A show owner will send us a show, we’ll scan it and, using AI and machine learning, detect where the opportunities are to insert 3D objects into the stream.”

Four reasons for investment

But the quest for “high growth” in a consolidating industry has led Lewine and TripleLift to take investment, selling a majority of the company to Vista.

He tells Beet.TV the reasons the company took the decision:

1. Sector expertise

“They know our space really well. They understand technology companies like TripleLift very well. And more specifically, they’re also experts in mar-tech and ad-tech – they had highly successful investments and companies like Markteo. And of course they currently own Mediaocean and Integral Ad Science. So they understand our space really well.”

2. People focus

“They invest very heavily in improving companies and with a specific focus of people. They have a series of best practises and other things they’ve learned throughout the hundreds of technology investments they’ve made throughout the years, to help make things more streamlined, to make us operate better and to grow faster.”

3. High growth plans

“We’re a growth company and we intend to continue to grow very quickly. We’re aligned with Vista to, to continue focusing on high growth and investing in accelerating that growth.”

4. Respect

“We really enjoyed working with the people over there. It became clear that we had a really good working relationship. We had a lot of respect for one another. And at the end of the day, this is a people business.”