Ratko Vidakovic — Ad Tech Expert

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I currently operate AdProfs, an ad tech consultancy that I founded in 2016. My objective was to share my deep understanding of the advertising technology ecosystem in various forms. AdProfs provides a wide range of services, including advisory, research, education, and analysis for ad tech companies, publishers, brands, investors, and many other groups.

Since 2017, I have published a weekly newsletter entitled This Week in Ad Tech, a summary of ad tech industry developments, along with my analysis and insights. The newsletter is read by over 12,000 industry professionals around the world, including many executives, at ad tech companies, media agencies, brands, publishers, investment firms, law firms, academia, and so on.

I have over 20 years of experience in the digital media industry and have held founder and senior management roles across many different segments of the industry. During my work experience, I have become intimately familiar with the various digital media value chain participants.

I started my digital media and marketing journey as a publisher, co-founding ToyotaNation.com and growing it into the Internet’s largest Toyota-enthusiast community with hundreds of thousands of users worldwide. I subsequently sold that business. I then spent several years as a performance-marketing media buyer, managing hundreds of media campaigns across a variety of digital channels. This period gave me experience and perspective as both a media buyer and seller.

After that, I joined SiteScout, a demand-side platform (DSP) and ad server company, as part of the founding team. At SiteScout, I managed the marketing function and helped grow the DSP business to over 60,000 users and 8-figure revenue. Less than three years later, SiteScout was acquired by Centro, a media agency based in Chicago with 32 offices across the US.

At Centro, which has since been renamed to Basis Technologies, I held leadership roles in both product management and product marketing. I was responsible for all aspects of product strategy, including the launch of Centro DSP, which marked a customer segment shift from SMB advertisers to mid-market agencies and brands. In the year following the DSP launch, media spend grew by 38% year over year.

I have spent over a decade taking ad tech products from ideation to successful commercialization, publishing 160+ industry newsletters and dozens of in-depth articles, and receiving dozens of academic citations and industry media quotations along the way. I am a recognized expert and thought leader in the advertising technology industry. I have also testified as an expert by deposition.

Curriculum Vitae


Founder, Author and Principal at AdProfs
March 2016 - Present

  • I started AdProfs to share my deep understanding of the advertising technology ecosystem in various forms.
  • Clients have included tech companies, trade groups, publishers, governments, law firms, and investors.
  • Helped companies develop new products, wrote strategy and product requirement documents, defined roadmaps, and assisted commercialization.
  • Developed and delivered training and education programs on programmatic advertising (RTB), header bidding, ad fraud, industry trends and opportunities.
  • Served as an expert consultant for top law firms and governments to provide training on how the ad tech ecosystem works and the competitive landscape.
  • Conducted due diligence of various ad tech businesses on behalf of institutional investors (e.g. private equity) and provided investment opinions.
  • Started a weekly newsletter—This Week In Ad Tech—summarizing and analyzing key industry developments. Read by over 12,000 industry professionals.

Chair, Technical Advisory Committee at Association of Canadian Advertisers
January 2020 - 2021

  • The ACA Technical Advisory Committee is an invite-only forum of senior partners who are experts in the digital marketing space.
  • The objective was to provide neutral insight and guidance to ACA and its members.

Vice President, Product Marketing - Programmatic at Basis Technologies
January 2015 - March 2016

  • Orchestrated the go-to-market launch of Centro DSP. Cooperated with cross-functional stakeholders across the company, including sales, marketing, business development, product management, engineering, legal, customer success, and close collaboration with the executive leadership team.
  • Responsible for defining the commercialization strategy, competitive analysis, thought leadership, internal training, supporting customer communications, contributing to the product roadmap, and sales enablement.

Vice President, Product and Marketing at Basis Technologies
May 2014 - December 2014

  • After releasing our updated DSP, I led a cross-functional team of product managers, product marketers, and designers. Defined the vision and strategy, maintained the product roadmap, and led associated marketing activities.
  • Implemented KISSmetrics for our product analytics to enable experimentation and to measure the revenue contribution of different features and user cohorts.
  • Interviewed target users to uncover pain points and guide product prioritization. Used survey results to inform product strategy and communications.

Senior Director, Product - Programmatic at Basis Technologies
November 2013 - April 2014

  • Immediately after we were acquired, my responsibility was to complete the redesign and launch of the second generation of our flagship advertising platform (DSP) for mid-market agencies, which included adding numerous new features to achieve functional parity with the competitive landscape.
  • Worked with cross-functional stakeholders to create our short-term roadmap.
  • Developed wireframes of the new product with our design team to produce high-fidelity guidance for our front-end engineering team.
  • In collaboration with the engineering team, we coordinated the transition of users from our old UI to the new UI over a six-month period.

Director of Marketing, Founding Team at SiteScout
April 2011 - November 2013

  • SiteScout was a demand-side platform (DSP) and ad server company.
  • As an instrumental member of the SiteScout founding team, my initial focus was on marketing strategy and driving customer growth.
  • My stewardship of the marketing function helped grow the DSP business to over 60,000 advertisers (users) and 8-figure revenue.
  • Responsibilities spanned a diverse range of specialized disciplines, from the highly creative to the highly analytical: B2B marketing strategy, design and copywriting, public relations and communications, community outreach and social media management, content creation, customer development and support, analytics and optimization, and paid advertising and lead generation.
  • SiteScout was acquired by Centro (now Basis Technologies), a media agency based in Chicago with 32 offices across the US.
  • Prior to the acquisition, my responsibilities expanded into product management, leading our redesign.

Digital Marketing Consultant at Vidakovic Group
March 2004 - March 2011

  • Vidakovic Group was a performance-focused digital marketing consultancy.
  • Worked several years as a performance-based media buyer, planning and executing hundreds of ad campaigns across various digital channels for brands such as eBay, Amazon, Groupon, and Netflix.
  • Also managed online lead-generation campaigns for local service businesses.

Co-Founder at ToyotaNation.com
July 2001 - January 2006

  • My digital media career began as a publisher, co-founding ToyotaNation.com and growing it into the Internet’s largest Toyota enthusiast community with hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.
  • Responsibilities included: web design and development, community management, IT systems administration, search engine optimization (SEO), ad sales and merchandising, strategic partnerships, and event management.
  • Acquired in 2006 by publisher group VerticalScope.

Industry Writing

AdProfs Guides

Guides that I have published on the AdProfs website:

How To Evaluate Demand-Side Platform (DSP) Companies – Jul 11, 2017
The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Ad Fraud – May 16, 2017
The Beginner’s Guide to Header Bidding – Mar 20, 2017
How To Investigate Suspicious Publishers – Sep 20, 2016

MarTech Articles

Articles I wrote that have been published on MarTech.org (formerly Marketing Land):

Google Display Network: An optimization and fraud-avoidance guide – Sep 12, 2017
Is your demand-side platform real or fake? – Jul 19, 2017
Ad fraud detection: A guide for marketers – May 22, 2017
Header bidding: What marketers need to know – Mar 28, 2017
Why every digital advertiser should demand transparency – Aug 15, 2016
Can you trust your media buying agency? – Jun 20, 2016
How to protect yourself against ad fraud – Apr 28, 2016
Who Should Be Responsible For Stopping Programmatic Ad Fraud? – Mar 3, 2016
Why Programmatic Advertising Fraud Exists – Nov 9, 2015
The Many Faces Of Programmatic Ad Fraud – Sep 28, 2015
Navigating The Modern Ad Serving Stack, Part 4: Open Auction (RTB) – Jul 27, 2015
Navigating The Modern Ad Serving Stack, Part 3: Private Marketplaces (Deal ID) – May 25, 2015
Navigating The Modern Ad Serving Stack, Part 2: Programmatic Direct – Feb 2, 2015
Navigating The Modern Ad Serving Stack, Part 1: Direct Orders – Dec 8, 2014
Why Every Marketer Should Leverage Retargeting – Oct 13, 2014
How Hyperlocal Mobile Advertising Changes Everything – Aug 18, 2014
5 Ways To Evaluate The Quality Of Audience Data – Dec 9, 2013
Fireside Musings: The Growth Of Real-Time Bidding – Nov 11, 2013
Programmatic Ad Buying: A Tactical Primer – Oct 18, 2013
5 Common Myths About Real-Time Bidding – Sep 16, 2013
Defining Premium Inventory In Today’s Evolving Display Ad Marketplace – Aug 19, 2013
Media Buying 101: Why You Need Your Own Ad Server – Jun 25, 2013
Beyond AdWords: Demand Side Platforms Explained – May 28, 2013
The 4 Strategic Phases Of Lean Display Advertising – Apr 29, 2013
5 Ways Real-Time Bidding Differs From Direct Buys – Apr 1, 2013
Display Ads: How Direct Buys & RTB Interact – Mar 4, 2013
The Mechanics of Real-Time Bidding – Feb 4, 2013

Guest Articles

Articles I wrote that have been published on various websites:

Ad Tech Abandoned The SMB Market [AdExchanger] – Jun 21, 2018
The Agencies, Neutrality, and Data Ownership [Association of Canadian Advertisers] – Aug 16, 2018
Ad-Tech Expert’s Advice to Local News Publishers: Pivot to Digital Subscriptions [StreetFight] – Aug 17, 2017
Hyperlocal Essentials For The Programmatic Mobile Advertiser [MediaPost] – Apr 21, 2015
Real-Time Bidding Ushers in the Era of Lean Marketing for Display Advertising [MarketingProfs] – Mar 23, 2013
Can Small Businesses Benefit From Online Display Advertising? [FOX Business] – Mar 23, 2013
Why You Need Post-Impression Tracking (and Why It’s Not Perfect) [AdMonsters] – Feb 5, 2013

Podcast Interviews

Podcasts episodes in which I am interviewed:

Ratko Vidakovic (AdProfs) [Slice of Ad Tech] – Sep 26, 2023
Discerning Fact from Fiction in AdTech (with Ratko Vidakovic) [Basis] – May 30, 2023
The Ad Prof himself, Ratko Vidakovic, drops knowledge. [Marketecture] – Apr 14, 2023
Netflix, Disney+, and Trade Desk—How Streaming Could Upend Advertising [Barron’s Streetwise] – Sep 16, 2022
Ratko Vidakovic – the SiteScout becomes an AdProf [Paleo Ad Tech] – Jun 28, 2021

Academic Citations

Academic papers and patents in which I am cited:

Addax: A fast, private, and accountable ad exchange infrastructure [University of Pennsylvania] – Apr 17, 2023
Ads and Fraud: A Comprehensive Survey of Fraud in Online Advertising [Journal of Cybersecurity and Privacy] – Dec 16, 2021
Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets - Competition Policy Should Lean on the Principles of Financial Market Regulation [Stanford] – 2020
Programmatic buying and the effectiveness of online advertising in Poland [University of Lodz] – 2020
Launch a retargeting campaign for Ase ja Erä [Turku University of Applied Sciences] – 2020
Ordering of fill requests to send to online ad networks to fill an ad unit in an electronic publisher application with an online advertising impression [Google Patents] – Dec 21, 2020
Google as a de facto privacy regulator: Analyzing Chrome’s removal of third-party cookies from an antitrust perspective [Tilburg University] – Nov 25, 2020
Marketing professionals' views on online advertising fraud [ResearchGate] – Apr 15, 2020
No More Chasing Waterfalls: A Measurement Study of the Header Bidding Ad-Ecosystem [ACM] – Jul 24, 2019
The Economics of Network Effects and User Data in the Provision of Search, Search Advertising, and Display Ad Intermediation [ACCC] – May 15, 2019
Complements and/or Substitutes? The Competitive Dynamics Between News Publishers and Digital Platforms and What It Means for Competition Policy [SSRN] – Mar 13, 2019
Origin, Present and Challenge: Application of Blockchain in the Advertising Industry [ResearchGate] – Feb 28, 2019
An EU Competition law Analysis of Online Display Advertising in the Programmatic Age [European Competition Journal] – Feb 4, 2019
Online advertising in the UK [GOV.UK] – Jan 2019
Practical Algorithms for Managing Uncertain Demand in ComplexSystems [Duke] – 2019
Origin, Present and Challenge: Application of Blockchain in the Advertising Industry [Hans] – 2019
Blockchain and the media supply chain: the application of the blockchain protocol to the world of digital advertising [Luiss] - 2019
Efficient Large-Scale Internet Media Selection Optimization for Online Display Advertising [Journal of Marketing Research] – Aug 1, 2018
Optimization of a SSP's Header Bidding Strategy using Thompson Sampling [ACM] – Jul 19, 2018
Exploring ADINT: Using Ad Targeting for Surveillance on a Budget [University of Washington] – Oct 30, 2017
Digital Marketing: From Online Advertising To Programmatic Advertising [Universidad de Leon] – July 2017
Perception of current trends in online advertising focusing on retargeting [Charles University] – Feb 7, 2017
Programmatic Advertising: A Quantitative Study of Consumer Attitudes Towards Highly Frequent Online Ads [Halmstad University] – Jun 6, 2017
Allocation and Pricing of Substitutable Goods: Theory and Algorithm [University of Minnesota] – Jan 10, 2017
Surveillance: From Solutions to New Problems [University of Washington] – 2017
Ad bidding based on a buyer-defined function [Google Patents] – Oct 14, 2016
Hyper local listing algorithm for user vicinity based points of interest [IEEE] – Sep 19, 2016
The Theory of Abuse in Google Search: A Positive and Normative Assessment Under EU Competition Law [University of Leeds] – July 19, 2016
Digital Mobility Platforms and Ecosystems: State of the Art Report [Technical University of Munich] – Jul 2016
Digital Marketing in an Analog World [HeinOnline] – 2016
Mobile Strategy [Springer] – Nov 25, 2015
Multi-Stage Intermediation in Display Advertising [SSRN] – Sep 18, 2015
Multi-channel attribution and its role in marketing investment [Ingenta Connect] – Sep 1, 2015
Data Driven Advertising - Comparison of the advertising effectiveness of different targeting technologies [Hamburg University of Applied Sciences] – Aug 2014

Media Quotations

Industry articles and media in which I am quoted:

Google’s Search Partner network comes under fire in research underlining brand safety vulnerabilities [Digiday] – Nov 28, 2023
Why a Mike Johnson campaign ad is running on an Iranian website [Politico] – Nov 28, 2023
Publisher Ad Monetization 2023 [Insider Intelligence] – Jul 25, 2023
A Billboard for the Living Room? How Telly Wants Advertisers to Pay for Your TV Set [The Wall Street Journal] – Jul 19, 2023
How SPO is driving ad tech’s decarbonization push [Digiday] – Apr 25, 2023
Apple's Safari Quietly Made It Harder for Sites to Work With Third Parties Like Google Analytics [Adweek] – Apr 19, 2023
SSPs break with the past as push comes to shove in ad tech [Digiday] – Apr 12, 2023
In a shrinking marketplace, Magnite explores media trading without DSPs [Digiday] – Apr 3, 2023
TelevisaUnivision’s Post-Cookie Targeting Shows Promise for Seller-Defined Audiences [Adweek] – Mar 8, 2023
The curation of programmatic marketplaces gathers pace across advertising – except with advertisers [Digiday] – Jan 19, 2023
The Trade Desk attempts to woo advertisers at CES with ‘Galileo’ — a bid to chart the ‘Open Internet’ without cookies [Digiday] – Jan 5, 2023
Google and Meta’s Advertising Dominance Fades as TikTok, Netflix Emerge [The Wall Street Journal] – Jan 4, 2023
Apple Keeps Denting Facebook's Core Ad Business [Insider] – Oct 27, 2022
Publisher Ad Monetization 2022 [Insider Intelligence] – Jul 22, 2022
On the French Riviera, ad tech braces for a correction [Digiday] – Jun 24, 2022
Reflections on the quarter with Zeta CEO David Steinberg [Digiday] – Jun 10, 2022
Parakeet vs. Fledge in the Battle for Post-Cookie Ads [Adweek] – Apr 28, 2022
Omnicom's Laura Collins on Delivery App Ads, Quartz’s Paywall Removal, and Data Ownership [ExchangeWire] – Apr 22, 2022
Billionaire Ad-Tech CEO Gets $830 Million in Pay to Fight Google [Bloomberg] – Apr 19, 2022
With the future of third-party addressability on the open web hanging in the balance, the ad industry divides in two [Digiday] – Feb 21, 2022
Yahoo Introduces Its Cookieless ID, Next-Gen Solutions, for the Open Web [Adweek] – Feb 17, 2022
Microsoft’s ad revenue hit $10B, and it’s investing — is it a sleeping giant about to wake? [Digiday] – Jan 27, 2022
Google proposes a new way to track people around the Web. Again. [The Washington Post] – Jan 25, 2022
MediaMath is exploring a sale, Magnite and PE are among potential acquirers [Digiday] – Dec 14, 2021
Ad tech’s revival: boom or bubble? [Digiday] – Jul 19, 2021
‘The backplane for advertising’: Amazon plots big step up for APS [Digiday] – Jul 6, 2021
Google is totally changing how ads track people around the Internet. Here’s what you need to know. [The Washington Post] – Jun 24, 2021
‘We’re not investing right now’: Publishers skeptical as ID tech comes knocking [Digiday] – May 20, 2021
How Ad Tech Wound Up Monetizing Sanctioned Russian Websites [Adweek] – May 17, 2021
‘Nothing makes sense anymore’: What’s driving ad tech’s latest consolidation wave [Digiday] – Feb 23, 2021
Ad Tech Is Primed for Its Own Roaring ’20s [Adweek] – Jan 18, 2021
‘Apple and Google Broke the Ecosystem’ of Programmatic Advertising [Adweek] – Dec 23, 2020
Why that ad for butt-flap pajamas is following you all over the internet [CNBC] – Dec 21, 2020
Privacy Prophecies from PubForum+ [AdMonsters] – Dec 10, 2020
Ad-Tech Deals Are Flowing Again as Experian Buys Tapad for $280 Million [Adweek] – Nov 20, 2020
How an advertising minnow outgrew the big beasts [Financial Times] – Oct 11, 2020
Facebook Says Apple’s New iPhone Update Will Disrupt Online Advertising [The Wall Street Journal] – Aug 26, 2020
Will Taboola-Outbrain Merger Hold up to Global Scrutiny? [Adweek] – Jul 23, 2020
Ad tech is in denial about Apple’s new app privacy rule [Digiday] – Jul 14, 2020
US Antitrust Regulators Are Poised for Google Crackdown [Adweek] – May 18, 2020
DSPs are cracking down on bid duplication [Digiday] – May 12, 2020
How COVID-19 has impacted the adtech industry [Lexology] – Apr 29, 2020
How Amazon goes hunting for branding budgets [JDN] – Apr 29, 2020
Publishers continue to see coronavirus coverage blocked by advertisers [Digiday] – Apr 24, 2020
Ad-Tech Firms Seek Financial Relief (and to Save the Cookie) [Adweek] – Apr 1, 2020
Publishers May Lower Their Standards on Ad Quality in Search of Revenue [Adweek] – Mar 30, 2020
Apple’s Cookie-Blocking Update Causes Publishers More Pain [Adweek] – Mar 25, 2020
Adtech M&A 2020: Walmart, The Trade Desk could be acquirers [Insider] – Mar 16, 2020
Why the GDPR investigation into Criteo could be a ‘line in the sand’ for ad tech [Digiday] – Mar 11, 2020
7 digital advertising companies that could be bought in 2020 [Insider] – Mar 4, 2020
‘Cookie apocalypse’ forces profound changes in online advertising [Financial Times] – Feb 26, 2020
Mobile Device IDs Will Be The Next Ad Tracker To Bite The Dust [AdExchanger] – Feb 10, 2020
What Investors Learned From the First Peek Inside YouTube’s Financials [The Wall Street Journal] – Feb 4, 2020
Beyond ad targeting, the demise of the third-party cookie will hit key digital media functions [Digiday] – Jan 29, 2020
What’s In Google’s Privacy Sandbox? Nothing, For Now [AdExchanger] – Jan 15, 2020
Tremor International to Buy Video Ad Platform Unruly from News Corp [Adweek] – Jan 6, 2020
2019: The Year of Ad-Tech Darwinism [Adweek] – Dec 20, 2019
Google Will Limit Cross-Site Tracking In Chrome By Default Starting In February [AdExchanger] – Dec 12, 2019
How brands get your phone number and call after they see you on their website [CNBC] – Nov 7, 2019
How Can Viant Differentiate in a Commoditized Ad-Tech Market? [Adweek] – Nov 4, 2019
Big Tech Is Implementing More Privacy Measures Thanks to Public Scrutiny and a Changing Market [Adweek] – Oct 21, 2019
Netflix and HBO shows are getting pirated on TeaTV and other sites [CNBC] – Oct 20, 2019
Can Contextual Targeting Replace Third-Party Cookies? [AdExchanger] – Oct 15, 2019
The great unbundling: Why some high-priced strategic ad tech deals could unravel [Digiday] – Oct 10, 2019
LiveRamp is buying Data Plus Math for $150 million [Insider] – Jun 24, 2019
Altice Appears Primed to Offload Teads [Adweek] – Jun 19, 2019
Google’s Ad Dominance Explained in Three Charts [The Wall Street Journal] – Jun 17, 2019
Amazon buys part of ad tech company Sizmek [CNBC] – May 31, 2019
Google Prepares to Launch New Privacy Tools to Limit Cookies [The Wall Street Journal] – May 6, 2019
Government Regulation Is Chief Threat to Marketers’ Data-Driven Initiatives [eMarketer] – Apr 7, 2019
What Would Google Chrome’s Version of ITP Look Like? [AdExchanger] – Mar 29, 2019
Google’s Latest Ad-Tech Changes and the Likely Future Impact [Adweek] – Mar 14, 2019
Winners and losers of Google’s move to unified first-price auctions [Digiday] – Mar 12, 2019
A Look Inside the 2019 Ad-Tech Outlook [Adweek] – Mar 1, 2019
Why Do Advertisers Keep Spending More and More With the Walled Gardens? [Adweek] – Feb 15, 2019
Adtech Won’t Fix Ad Fraud Because It Is Too Lucrative, Say Specialists [Which-50] – Jun 18, 2018
‘Ads.txt’: How a Little Bit of Code Is Putting a Big Dent in Ad Fraud [Street Fight] – Mar 29, 2018
Ignore The Hype, But Don’t Ignore Blockchain And AI [Association of Canadian Advertisers] – Mar 15, 2018
Privacy activists target the IAB Europe’s GDPR approach [Digiday] – Feb 21, 2019
The cybercriminal's cash cow and the marketer's machine [The Register] – Jun 29, 2018
Few Companies Are Ready for the Upcoming GDPR [eMarketer] – Feb 16, 2018
With GDPR looming, DSPs are under pressure to adapt [Digiday] – Jan 19, 2018
Ad retargeters scramble to get consumer consent [Digiday] – Jan 10, 2018
Ad Tech Spotlight: Cracking the Facebook-Google duopoly [S&P Global Market Intelligence] – Aug 16, 2017
Ad fraud continues to cost brands billions [ClickZ] – Jan 20, 2016
Has Facebook failed marketers? [MarketWatch] – Oct 28, 2013