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The rise and rise of Denver-based advertising startup Altitude Digital Partners

It may no longer be news that online advertising agencies are putting their art directors and account managers to work on online video campaigns as never before (eMarketer predicts that digital video ad spending will explode from this year’s $4.1 billion to over $8 billion by 2016). But maybe it is news to find a young online display and video ad tech firm which has surefootedly kept abreast of the trend toward video, even when it wasn’t a glimmer in most advertisers’ and publishers’ eyes.

Surfing the digital crest

Denver-based startup Altitude Digital Partners matches publishers with advertisers through a real-time bidding platform that functions like online Adland’s very own eBay. The efforts of art directors and account managers get to be a little more appreciated courtesy of Altitude Digital, because their product is more likely to be seen. It combines user data from online and offline sources, cross-referencing information held by cookies with information from third-party firms like Experian. Video ads get targeted far more effectively, ending up being viewed rather than simply skipped (the fate of too many art directors’ online creations).

Back in 2009, erstwhile online advertising sales rep, Jerry Ostermiller, decided to dust himself off after the early bloodbath of the recession and sink his last remaining $500 into developing a website. He’d set his eyes on an untapped market: relatively unknown publishers who, despite their low profile, still managed to drive oceans of Web traffic.

Ostermiller had seen the transition to online during his sales rep days, and knew that these tier-2 publishers weren’t being adequately cared for in Adland. Beginning as a one-man-band with his website, he set about e-mailing publishers like a man possessed and cold-calling countless numbers of them.

From naught to 28 million in four years

Fast forward to 2013, and his little startup now employs 35 staff (rising to around 80 by year’s end), generates $28 million every year in revenue and was listed at No. 54 last year on the list of fastest growing US companies by 500 Inc.

Ostermiller explains how it works, “Once the perfect ad demographic has been identified, (our platform) sends a bid request to the advertising providers requesting an ad back in a specific size and price range for a specific demographic.”

Ostermiller’s acorn is a handsome oak today.

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