James Avery, Founder & CEO of Kevel on the ad tech industry and API technology.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Kevel?
Soon, Kevel offered not just an API ad server but infrastructure tools for companies to build their own ad platforms. Now, Kevel’s product is a suite of APIs aimed at helping drive revenue and take back the Internet from the ad tech giants.
How does Kevel innovate?
James Avery: We constantly innovate based on what we learn from our customers. We work very closely with them and really try to understand their challenges and goals on a deeper level. Then we take this information and try to build something that works across a lot of different industries and verticals.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business?
James Avery: We are focused on helping our customers make money, and when the pandemic first hit, many of our customers were faced with the challenge of how to continue making money when everything shut down. A lot of our customers in the travel and restaurant industries were particularly affected, and our goal was to figure out how we could best help them through this crisis period. In the end, the pandemic drove a lot of growth in the area of e-commerce, and many people saw the value in creating new revenue streams beyond their core business.
What are the current trends in the adtech industry, and how fast it changes?
James Avery: Adtech is constantly changing and evolving at a very rapid pace. The first trend I see at the moment is privacy. This is a major topic in the space due to recent GDPR updates, as well as Apple’s changes to its ITP (its tracking system). Many people are working toward the goal of delivering ads in a privacy-centric way; this is something we have always been very focused on.
The second trend is the growth of retail media. The explosion around e-commerce led companies in this industry to realize how much money was to be made. For example, just look at how much money Amazon makes from its ad platform ($31 billion in 2021). That has driven a lot of growth in retail media, and more businesses are interested in building an ad platform.
Who is the target audience of Kevel? Do you have any interesting partnerships?
James Avery: Our customers come from all sorts of industries, as any company can learn how to monetize its digital property with ads. We have already helped launch successful ad platforms for Ticketmaster, Yelp, Strava, Klarna, WeTransfer, and many more major players online.
Tell us more about your platform/technology.
James Avery: Kevel offers the infrastructure APIs needed to quickly build custom ad platforms for sponsored listings, internal promotions, native ads, digital out-of-home (DOOH) media, and more — allowing brands to drive new revenue in a user-first way. We enable our customers to build walled garden ad solutions that rival those of the monopolies dominating the Internet in a privacy-focused way. Our solution requires significantly less time and money than building an ad platform in-house. For instance, while it took Facebook three years to build its in-house ad product (aka, those native promoted posts we all see when scrolling), companies can use our tools to build something similar in much less time.
How do you see the future of Kevel? What are the next steps for the company?
James Avery: Kevel is committed to the vision that every online retailer and publisher should be able to add privacy-focused ad revenue streams and take back the Internet from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other digital monopolies. After our latest funding round of $10 million, we will use the additional support to expand the Kevel team, acquire more partnerships, develop new product features and API offerings, and expand further into retail media.
Our goal is to be the advertising infrastructure for the Internet. Everything we do is a step toward this goal. The next steps will be continuing to work with new and larger customers to enable them to make the most of their advertising in a privacy-centric way.
James Avery is the Founder and CEO of Kevel, which was launched in 2010 as Adzerk. James has over a decade of experience in the ad tech industry and is an expert in software engineering and API technology. He was the Co-Founder of TekPub, which helped developers learn from high-quality screencasts, and was acquired by Pluralsight in 2013. James is a seasoned entrepreneur and coder who also wrote books for O’Reilly, Wrox, and Microsoft Press. Additionally, he serves as an advisor to startups including Blockthrough, Lazarus, and more through the TechStars MetLife Accelerator.