Ah, the LUMAscape, who in the digital marketing world doesn’t know it as an old friend at this point?
First debuted in 2010 by the ad tech banker Terry Kawaja, the LUMAscape has been through many iterations at this point, adding companies, changing categories and noting acquisitions over the years. From the very beginning this image was a hit with the digital marketing set as it provided a way to understand a complex industry, as well as a symbol for how difficult it is to work in a space so complex! The LUMAscape was a great way for ad technology people to explain the growing industry within their own companies in a visual way, as well as understand how new companies were aligned and fit together. Kawaja & team’s image was also a solid way to understand what a whole lot of companies even did, so if you were say, shopping for a data management platform, you could get a quick sense who the four or five companies in the space were. For Kawaja’s company, LUMA Partners, the LUMAscape was also a great way to show the sheer amount of fragmentation in the industry and possibilities for consolidation through acquisitions, on which his company specializes in advising.
Whatever the motivations, the LUMAscape is an iconic image in the digital marketing industry, and a must-know resource that Kawaja’s company has generously kept up to date for nearly five years now. But the graphic itself only tells a high-level story and can oversimplify, as the LUMA Partner’s website readily admits, so I thought it could be useful to take this image down one more level and explain some of the nuances and sub-categories within each service. This article describes what each category coves, what a lot of the companies on the LUMAscape actually do, as well as the differences between key services within specific categories. For those that are new to the industry, I hope this post not only demystifies this graphic, but gives you a well-rounded sense of how the digital marketing industry functions, and for industry veterans who already know the basics there’s probably still a few things to learn.
Agency Trading Desks
I’ve written about dynamic creative optimization here before, and this box on the LUMAscape is about just that – helping marketers discover what creative assets perform best, and automatically test and optimize toward those versions. The simplest example of this would be if a consumer put a pair of shoes in their shopping cart but then left the site without buying them, a marketer might want to serve an ad to that same consumer with an image of the exact product to try and convince them to make a purchase. Imagine that on a scale of millions of consumers shopping for hundreds of thousands of different items and you need a tool that can automatically match the product (with its respective image and price) to the user, and then test different calls to action, or color schemes, or even pricing to see what is most likely to make a customer come back and purchase.
Companies like Dappr and Teracent were quickly snapped up (by Yahoo! and Google, respectively), but the ones that are still independent, such as Certona, often optimize not only advertising, but landing pages and product recommendations on the marketers’ site as well. Others like AdReady help a marketer take a few common images and text assets and quickly build out a version in every standard IAB format.
Ad Servers (Marketer Side)
Verification and Privacy
A fairly niche corner of the space, verification and privacy ad technology tends to support the technical needs of Ad Ops people in particular. There’s a wide variety of companies included in this section of the LUMAscape – DoubleVerify & AdSafe tend to align more with advertisers looking to ensure the publisher has targeted their ad correctly and is delivering it on brand safe inventory, and can even prevent the ad from serving if the page doesn’t pass muster.
Other companies like Ad-Juster help automate publisher billing processes that require publishers to pull reports from many agency systems on a regular basis to measure campaign pacing and generate final invoices and is the only company in the space that handles that service. Still others like the Media Trust and Adometry specialize in scanning ad tags for malware and malicious scripts that harm users, validate advertiser compliance to publisher ad specs, and even monitor for data collection tags. And finally, companies like TRUSTe and Evidon provide services to help advertisers and publishers alike give consumers notice on when they are being shown ads based on behavioral tracking, as well as the technology behind opt-out solutions to stay in compliance with NAI standards and privacy policies.