Rapid advances in artificial intelligence have loosened the death grip of digital media giants on the advertising and marketing tech (martech) sectors. New companies with tailored technologies are emerging, delivering powerful impact and snatching market share from behemoths like Google and Facebook at an accelerating pace. Digital media and martech technologies have already changed the way companies connect with consumers and with soaring ecommerce activity and media consumption the sector is prime for explosive upside growth.
As the sector has gained huge traction in the technology markets, reflected in the Nasdaq composite, there's been a simultaneous spike in technology focused Special Purpose Acquisition Funds (SPACs). SPACs raised more than $83 billion in 2020, and the SaaS (software as a service) category was a leading beneficiary, which has led to a boom of AI software small caps.
AI accelerator, DGTL Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: DGTL) (OTCQB: DGTHF) (Profile) has leveraged these trends and posted an average of 75% year-over-year revenue growth for the past two quarters. DGTL is rapidly building a portfolio of fully commercialized enterprise SaaS in the digital media and martech software sectors by signing multiple Tier-one global brand clients, including impressive licensing deals with companies such as Quaker Oats, Budweiser, Dunkin' Brands, Mitsubishi Motors, DoorDash, Stella Artois, Nestle, Keurig-Dr. Pepper, Pizza Hut, Patagonia, and most recently DraftKings. Bypassing the digital media giants, these big name clients chose the AI-powered social media content management platform of DGTL subsidiary Hashoff because of its state-of-the-art solutions.
Quickened by the pandemic, demand for martech and adtech solutions is booming, leading to soaring valuations and impacting others in the sector such as Perion (NASDAQ: PERI), the Trade Desk (TSX: TTD), Acuity Ads Holdings Inc. (TSX: AT) and Kubient (NASDAQ: KBNT).
- Leveraging its expertise and platform solutions, DGTL Holdings Inc. posted year-over-year revenue growth of more than 83% in Q1, 70% in Q2.
- DGTL's impressive client portfolio includes DraftKings, DoorDash, Shein.com, Anheuser Busch, Quaker Oats, Dunkin' Brands, Mitsubishi, Stella Artois, Vertone, Syneos Health, Nestle, Keurig-Dr. Pepper, Pizza Hut, and Patagonia, to name a few.
- DraftKings followed its NCAA March Madness campaign with DGTL's Hashoff with a new campaign running during coverage of the PGA Masters, the world's most popular golf tournament.
- DGTL's strategic structure to acquire 100% of Hashoff forces the AI startup to meet or exceed annual sales revenue of up to $8 million — a +400% revenue increase from acquisition date — in order to receive 100% of cash payments.
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DGTL Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: DGTL) (OTCQB: DGTHF) has already amassed an impressive portfolio of some of the world's most recognizable brands that have chosen Hashoff for their marketing needs. Among others, DGTL's client portfolio includes Budweiser, Dunkin' Brands, Mitsubishi Motors, DoorDash, Stella Artois, Nestle, Keurig-Dr. Pepper, Pizza Hut, Patagonia and DraftKings — and the company is just getting warmed up.
Reflective of its surging client base, DGTL is posting blowout revenues. The company's revenue rose 83% year over year during Q1 FY2021, ended August 31, 2020, to $1.16 million. In Q2, revenue increased to $1.25 million, up 70% from the year prior quarter. DTGL has another potential catalyst in the coming weeks when it discloses financial results for the latest quarter, and if the past is any indication, the numbers could be exceptional.
Hitting on all cylinders, DGTL also just signed a joint venture agreement to collaborate with Loop Insights to provide social media and advanced data-collection programs to its respective sports entertainment and fantasy gaming clients surrounding major league sports leagues such as the NCAA, PGA, NFL, MLB and others. Loop Insights chose DGTL to gain direct access to these major brands and more, and to improve its presence in the $355 billion global digital advertising market.
DGTL is in a prime situation by combining top trends and tech under one roof. Tier-one clients have signed on in spades, including DGTL activating a recent campaign for a client described as "a Nasdaq-listed Digital Sports Gaming and Entertainment brand" during 2021 PGA Masters tournament. Disclosure policies don't allow DGTL to state its client's name, but a quick examination of the description (global leader in "fantasy sports and mobile sports betting applications," $25-plus billion market cap) points squarely to DraftKings.
The new deal comes on the heels of completing a NCAA March Madness basketball tournament campaign with DraftKings. DraftKings' fantasy and online betting platform covers essentially every major sport worldwide from college through pros, which speaks to the opportunity for continuous campaigns across multiple verticals going forward.
In addition, last month a DGTL campaign was activated for "a globally recognized CPG brand company." Having to be opaque, DGTL also called the client, which looks to be Quaker Oats, "150 years old. . . an American food conglomerate based in Chicago. . . owned and operated as a subsidiary of PepsiCo." If the quality and efficacy of Hashoff's technology can be measured by the quality of companies employing it, then it's leading the pack.
Ad Dollars Go Where Consumers Go
There's been a steady erosion of time spent on traditional media in the United States for more than a decade with digital dominance in emerging in 2018. Since 2011, average daily time spent on traditional media (TV, print, terrestrial radio, billboards) has fallen about 20% to approximately 360 minutes. At the same time, usage of digital media more than doubled from about 210 minutes to 450 minutes and the pandemic only accelerated the digital trend.
Social media and influencer spending are where companies now devote a bulk of their advertising and marketing capital rather than traditional broadcast and print media. Out of an estimated $572 billion in total global ad spend in 2020, $291.7 billion was allocated to digital ads. Social ad spending rose 20% year over year to $43 billion, while social media influencer/content marketing — a hot new trend — jumped 50% to $9.7 billion last year and is expected to double again in the coming 12 to 18 months.
This tsunami of digital ad spend plays directly to the strengths of tech accelerator DGTL, as the company builds a portfolio of B2B enterprise SaaS in the digital media, martech, adtech and e-commerce sectors. Last year, DGTL (an acronym for Digital Growth Technologies and Licensing) acquired Hashoff, an enterprise-level, self-service CaaS built on artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technology. DGTL's deal to acquire 100% of Hashoff requires the AI startup to meet or exceed annual sales revenue of up to $8 million, which is a +400% revenue growth from the date of acquisition, in order to receive 100% of cash payments.
DGTL's recognized Hashoff's prowess — at the forefront of technical and consumer trends including social, influencer, AI/ML and the gig economy — to level the playing field and capture market share from larger peers. The company excels in operational efficiencies, which contains costs and results in savings passed on to clients while simultaneously improving efficacy and margins. The company offers a full-service platform that includes more than 150 million freelance content creators. Using cutting-edge AI/ML tech, global brands have the ability to identify the top-ranked digital content publishers for their specific needs, subsequently engaging them, managing marketing campaigns and tracking the performance all within the Hashoff architecture.
Carving an Enviable Niche
Investors will be listening for rumblings of any additional M&A activity from DGTL. Management, which includes former senior executives from companies including Hearst, Yahoo, AOL-Time Warner, RocketFuel, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, RBC, and IPG, have made it clear that the intent is to grow the company both organically and inorganically. The explosive growth of Hashoff puts the company's ability on full display – with the first martech SaaS acquisition within its portfolio-based development model.
Importantly, the leadership team has kept the cap structure tight with only 36 million shares outstanding, with approximately $1.5 million in cash and no debt.
With traditional media flailing, the ethos of the marketing community is next-generation digital processes. Even traditional digital methods, such as pop-up ads and auto-play videos, are becoming quickly archaic. Targeted marketing that feels native, such as with a social media influencer, using AI and ML to most effectively inform both market and strategy are the technologies that will drive the market for decades.
Perion (NASDAQ: PERI) is a global technology company that provides agencies, brands and publishers with innovative solutions that cover the three main pillars of digital advertising. From its data-driven Synchronized Digital Branding platform and high-impact ad formats in the display domain to its powerful social media platform and its branded search network, Perion is well-positioned to capitalize on any changes in marketers' allocation of digital advertising spend.
The Trade Desk (TSX: TTD) is a technology company that empowers buyers of advertising. Through its self-service, cloud-based platform, ad buyers can create, manage, and optimize more expressive data-driven digital advertising campaigns across ad formats, including display, video, audio, native and social, on a multitude of devices, including computers, mobile devices, and connected TV. Integrations with major data, inventory, and publisher partners ensure maximum reach and decisioning capabilities, and enterprise APIs enable custom development on top of the platform.
Acuity Ads Holdings Inc. (TSX: AT) is a leading technology company that provides marketers a powerful and holistic solution for digital advertising across all ad formats and screens to amplify reach and Share of Attention(R) throughout the customer journey. Via its unique, data-driven insights, real-time analytics and industry-leading activation platform based on proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology, Acuity Ads leverages an integrated ecosystem of partners for data, inventory, brand safety and fraud prevention, offering unparalleled, trusted solutions that the most demanding marketers require to be successful in the digital era.
Kubient (NASDAQ: KBNT) is a technology company with a mission to transform the digital advertising industry to audience-based marketing. Kubient's next-generation, cloud-based infrastructure enables efficient marketplace liquidity for buyers and sellers of digital advertising. The Kubient Audience Cloud is a flexible open marketplace for advertisers and publishers to reach, monetize and connect their audiences. The Company's platform provides a transparent programmatic environment with proprietary artificial intelligence-powered pre-bid ad fraud prevention, and proprietary real-time bidding (RTB) marketplace automation for the digital out of home industry.
There is one common thread in maximizing return on investment for advertisers. Brands will earmark ever more capital for digital efforts as the fight for consumer attention continues. As for tech companies, it's a matter of which can deliver the most efficient, quantifiable results at the lowest cost. Companies that deliver on that model, whether digital media giants or upstarts, are likely to make the most of the industry opportunity.
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