The 2009 list presented a new challenge for the editorial team, namely spotting the companies that embrace the current market pressures and crystallize into diamond, amongst the many more that will be turned to dust.
The winners from this year's list will likely look back on this time as their formative—albeit challenging—adolescence; a time when even though they had to sharpen their game to win deals, they were also met with a market hungry for their efficiencies and insights.
Given the worst economic environment in history of the list, the context of our 2009 selection process was a variation of past efforts. The context of our first list in 2007 was "New Tools for the New Marketer" and comprised a survey of new platforms and services from those looking to supercharge their online marketing programs.
Given the newness of the market (and companies) and the degree of similarity between many of the offerings, choosing our 2007 and 2008 lists was like finding needles in haystacks. We spotted some all-star performers, such as Blue Lithium (acquired by Yahoo!), Quigo (acquired by AOL), and Adify (acquired by Cox). Over the course of just two prior OnMedia 100 lists, we identified numerous companies prior to their exits, transactions that, in aggregate, have returned value to their investors measured in the billions.
While the online advertising numerator is still expanding (modestly), the denominator has expanded much more quickly. Even though Citi forecasts U.S. online advertising to grow by 4% in 2009 to $25 billion (compared with a 7% drop in total U.S. advertising), the number of companies and amount of inventory over which this money can be spread is large. As things stand, there are too many mouths for too little bread.
The truly great ideas being executed by great teams should find these turbulent times a blessing in disguise as their competitors stumble, and their customers realize their value. We believe we've identified many of these diamonds-in-the-making in the 2009 OnMedia 100 list.
Our overall winner, The Rubicon Project, is the right solution at the right time for the current market environment. Its service increases the efficiency of the advertising market by optimizing the matching of remnant ads (which often make up 80% or even 90% of a publisher's ad inventory) to available placement opportunities. With more than 1,300 publishers and 350 ad networks, Rubicon can dynamically put the right ad in the right place in front of the right person at the right time—which in the end, is better for the publisher, the advertiser, and ultimately the consumer.
Adap.tv, another of our category winners, is bringing the same kind of innovation and efficiency to online video. Its service is enabling the creative display of advertising in online video, moving beyond simple (and often annoying) pre- and post-roll video ads.
Our analytics category winner, Quantcast, is rapidly establishing itself as the new benchmark in Web analytics through its sophisticated audience measurement tools and self-reporting based approach. Newcomers like NuConomy are stretching beyond simple statistical analysis and seeking to provide insight into deeper questions of engagement and contribution.
Companies like Zynga and Ensequence are giving advertisers engaging new channels for reaching their audiences by adding dimensions to existing platforms, like social networks (Zynga) and television (Ensequence) to create highly interactive experiences.
2009 is undoubtedly going to be a pivotal year for many of the companies on this year's OnMedia 100, but we're confident that for many, the current pressure will shape their ideas and focus their strategies. Keep an eye out for a shower of diamonds.
Zynga ***CATEGORY WINNER***
MOBILE MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
Apptera ***CATEGORY WINNER***
Like.com ***CATEGORY WINNER***
ONLINE ADVERTISING AND SERVICE PROVIDERS
Access 360 Media
Adap.tv (category winner)
Ozone Media Solutions
Rubicon Project, The ***OVERALL WINNER***
Offerpal Media ***CATEGORY WINNER***
Widgetbucks ***NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR***
WEB AND MEDIA ANALYTICS AND RESEARCH
Aster Data Systems
Milabra (formerly Sobayli)
Quantcast ***CATEGORY WINNER***