The Unapologetic (And Unashamedly Biased) 2024 Ad Tech Investment Preview
Happy New Year, readers. The FPC newsletter is back. We will stick to our bi-weekly schedule going forward - as we know, people are keen to hear from us. Let’s crack on, shall we?
FPC has been reading a lot of editorials this week on what’s in store for the year ahead. It’s been a bloody awful experience thus far.
One moment, you are full of hope and joy; the next, having consumed the mental meanderings of various “experts,” you are stricken with a crippling queasiness - a sense of helplessness.
Is this the end of the open web? Has Google snookered the industry with Privacy Sandbox? Will signal loss kill independent ad tech? Should we all beg for a job at MAGA? What’s to become of us all?
Introducing a comedy moment to lay waste to this ridiculously misplaced and pervasive negativity is crucial right now. This scene from Father Ted - the epoch-defining comedy - sums up the general mood nicely.
Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s get stuck into why 2024 will be an epic year for the FPC fund and the MadTech industry.
We will do this by discussing how our portfolio companies are solving the biggest problems in ad tech and why they will be big ad tech category winners.
Lumen powers attention: Lumen is the industry leader in attention, powering some of the biggest platforms and ad nets. We have discussed ad-nauseum why attention is vital to the industry going forward (cc: cookie deprecation, mid-to-upper funnel measurement collapse, etc). Attention has had to prove itself to buyers, mainly regarding outcomes. It’s not good enough to show the engagement in advertising. You need to verify that engagement results in real-world results. Lumen has worked hard on its “Lumen Loop” solution in 2023, making attention truly addressable. In a bake-off, it will beat everyone. 2024 is the year Lumen goes nuclear.
Wult is the standard for data compliance in ad tech: Wult has been quietly building its enterprise compliance platform for the better part of 24 months. No fanfare is required. No unnecessary LinkedIn hyperbole. Just ready to own the category. We have some big customer announcements coming this quarter - as well as several stellar hires. Wult will be the backbone of global digital marketing and media data compliance.
Pixels, next-generation video solution: Video monetsiation remains messy. Outstream is the go-to. Pop-up video pollutes the user experience. Editorial teams hate it. Users hate it. And buyers despair. Pixels have spent the better part of 2023 building a full stack (ad server, video player) - all powered by its own AI solution. Pixels does the impossible by bringing editorial and sales together, enabling editors to pick relevant videos to appear against written content. The Independent, a trailblazer in video content production, uses Pixels to monetise its output. With several sizeable client wins already secured, it’s a big year for video’s zeitgeist company.
Carpio is the perfect utility AI company: Carpio started life as an Amazon ad management tool but has since evolved away from a commoditised category to lead the way in the e-com and product listing content generation space. It’s the perfect AI utility. Carpio is cutting edge tech with huge applications across brands. You will be hearing a LOT from this co in the coming months. The less said, the better. This one is properly big.
LightBoxTV makes TV addressable: It is hard to articulate how fragmented TV has become. The LinkedIn CTV mafia cheered the Amazon news, announcing it was bringing ads to Prime. This walled-off inventory just adds more complexity. Linear, walled gardens, and programmatic supply are causing planning and activation headaches for buyers. LightBox brings sanity to TV’s chaos. It is the ultimate meta layer, enabling agencies and brands to execute large-scale TV campaigns. This company is sitting on one of the most significant opportunities in ad tech.
Contextual, MadTech BPO, curation, and buy-side infrastructure will deliver significant returns for LPs: As our Managing Partner, Rich Ashton, mentioned in his end-of-year LinkedIn message, we have four more investments to announce before we close the fund. And we need to be honest here, readers: they are absolute bangers. Money-making off-the-bat. They are tailor-made for a strategic or PE acquisition in a mere 24 months. They would make SaaS-obsessed VCs puke in their mouth. But we don’t care about these loss-making, gilet-wearing types because these startups will make our LPs money (isn’t that the objective of this game, after all?). They also represent a significant layer in scaling all our portfolio companies globally. It’s the ultimate MadTech flywheel effect. Oh, it is so bloody tasty.
We could easily add a few more of our stellar companies here, but FPC is technically still on holiday. Still, this should whet the appetite.
It will be a stellar 2024 - so how about we dispense with the negativity and go at it hard? Here’s our motto for the year ahead: don’t navel gaze; just f***ing kill it.
And with that adrenaline-filled ending, I will bid you adieu loyal readers. Have a great weekend.