How Ad Tech Companies Are Becoming Publishers

Posted by Stephen Petrey on Friday, May 11, 2018

So, I had no idea that the iconic content aggregator, was sold to BuySellAds:

Mind-blowing right? The seller, betaworks is based here in NYC. I’m happy for Digg, happy for betaworks and even happier for BSA. I really enjoy BuySellAds. Glad to see them beefing up ad inventory. In fact, I even employ some of their ads here on this blog. No huge returns or anything, but it helps cover my hosting costs, which is nice. I’m pro-BSA for two reasons:

  • BSA has a solid privacy policy (last updated in 2015).
  • BSA’s ads aren’t creepy. No wild tracking, or intrusive data collection about visitors (similar to The Deck, RIP), nor do they contribute significant page bloat.

Todd Garland, (@toddo) is the CEO of BuySellAds. As I was researching the Digg purchase — I came across this particularly interesting interview:

Why did you want to buy a digital publisher like Digg?

Todd Garland: We were trying to secure a sales exclusivity deal for a big property. Then we just got to talking with the folks over there and it made more sense for us to buy a majority stake in Digg. We were starting to see a lot of overlap with our advertisers spending money on Digg, and we have been wanting to move further into more consumer-y tech-type inventory.

Were you interested in purchasing them so that you could harvest their user data?

Todd Garland: A lot of people thought that this was similar to Viant buying Myspace. That deal, as I understood it, was largely around the user data. This is the complete opposite of that. Like, we really don’t care about user data. We never have since the beginning of BuySellAds.

A lot of ad tech execs would disagree with you and say there’s lots of value to be had from selling people’s data.

Todd Garland: I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been approached by data brokers looking to buy our data, and it’s just such an easy “no” for us. Sure, we could probably make a few extra hundred thousand dollars a month. But the steam train that is the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] is coming down the track right now.

I’m going to give Todd the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s 100% serious here. I believe this an overall good move for online advertising.


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