Titans of adtech: Liftoff+Vungle CEO Mark Ellis on consolidation and competition

By John Koetsier November 26, 2021

Applovin buying MoPub for a billion dollars. Liftoff merging with Vungle. Digital Turbine stuffing its armory with AdColony and Fyber. ironSource buying Bidalgo and Tapjoy and Luna Labs and Soomla all in 2021.

The ground is quaking.

The sky is shaking.

Things are happening in mobile adtech, and the landscape is being altered as we speak. I wrote about some of that recently in The new titans of adtech: evolving giants, focusing on how consolidation and aggregation in the famously fragmented world of adtech is bringing together what were once considered vastly disparate capabilities as the big independent players (AKA non-Google, non-Facebook) acquire as much capability, as much data, as much supply, and as much demand as possible.

So now we’re going to chat with the people making it happen, starting with Mark Ellis, CEO of Liftoff+Vungle.

Ellis makes no secret of the fact that he’s looking for yet more acquisitions where they make sense, in addition to increasing organic growth.

“We have a lot of ideas around new product innovation and unfortunately we only have so many people on the building side of Liftoff + Vungle,” he says. “We will certainly continue to push a lot of organic innovation and new products, but yes, we will augment that with inorganic or acquisitive growth.”

The goal, naturally, is to grow.

But it’s also to provide an alternative to the giants of digital advertising: Google and Facebook.

“We truly are that scaled alternative to big tech — Facebook, Google, and others — able to really help the mobile marketer build and grow their engaged mobile audiences,” Ellis told me.

Of course, iOS and SKAN are driving consolidation: more first-party data and less hassle getting it means better targeting and ability to drive ROI-positive ad campaigns. But that’s not the only driver, as Ellis says 85% of Liftoff’s tech stack “remains the same as it was prior to [iOS] 14.5.” Contextual targeting that requires no behavioral or historical knowledge of a person being served up an ad is perhaps better than expected, driving “great outcomes for our customers,” Ellis says.

In terms of what the future holds for adtech, Ellis says more apps are coming and people will spend even more time in them. He also foresees more influencer marketing — Vungle, of course, bought JetFuel in June, and that acquisition will roll up into the new combined Liftoff+Vungle. JetFuel says its 15,000 influencers have a combined reach of 4 billion Instagram followers, 1.5 billion TikTok followers, and 100 million daily Snapchat views … so that’s a fairly large chunk of the global population.

He also says advertisers will continue to demand measurement, even as it evolves with the changing environment on iOS and Android.

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