The MadTech Sketch - The Revolut Ad Model: Everything is NOT an Ad Net

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In ExchangeWire's latest MadTech Sketch, following the news that Revolut is planning to monetise its transactional data through advertising, Ciarán O’Kane sheds light on their likely ad model, and how it's less ad net, more mini walled garden.

Another new ad player joined the ad tech party this week. Revolut announced it was launching a new ad business among all the headline-grabbing news from Google and TikTok.

A former TikTok exec is heading up the new ad unit, which apparently has 30 employees. I could make a jab at windbag analysts who pushed “ads are for the poor” because ad tech people are just not that petty.

Ads are for everyone, and clearly, Revolut sees an opportunity to monetise its transactional rich first-party data.

This week, I map out what the Revolut ad model will look like in the MadTech Sketch. They have three options:

  1. Ads on O&O properties: Serve a native ad on the app. Revolut has some scale: 6.8 million active users in the UK and 35+ million worldwide. Overlay with their first-party data and sell on an IO basis. Endemic and non-endemic ad campaigns should work well.  Revolut will probably ape the early Cardlytics model.  Revolut will be a winning formula if it can avoid any unnecessary UX mess-ups.  It is working well for other walled gardens, Uber et al.  They will need an ad tech stack.  Standard advice: avoid Google.
  2. Curated Revolut marketplace: This is a more ambitious solution and probably a phase two or three project.  Build a curated marketplace around aggregated transactional Revolut data.  Avoid retargeting users on the open web as it’s a privacy bear trap - and will put you on the radar of the privacy lunatics.  Overlay transactional data with geo and other signals, and Revolut could easily extend beyond its walls.  Curation is the future of this business.
  3. Open web buying (self-serve or managed service): Revolut needs to be very careful about how it goes about this. Targeting users around logged-in emails needs serious planning. Opt-ins and privacy need to be top-of-mind. Customer privacy needs to be guarded. One false step and the consequences could be severe (from litigation to negative PR to privacy regulator action).

It will be interesting to see how Revolut rolls this out.  Great to see another ad player in the mix.  Welcome to the big show, Revolut.