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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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