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How Self-Serve Ad Tech Can Support SMBs by Levelling the Advertising Playing Field

By James Allen and Joey Medici, Co-Founders of Media Disco

Media Disco was born from our shared vision of a fair and transparent advertising landscape; one where smaller brands and agencies could compete with larger players on equal footing. Despite the abundance of advertising channels available today, the industry remains skewed, placing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) at a significant disadvantage.

Large, well-established advertisers dominate the marketplace, securing premium rates and placements – but despite appearing to be ‘everywhere’, the reality is they account for just 22% of US advertising spend. Their scale and budgets give them unrivalled access to top-tier media opportunities, leaving mid-sized brands struggling for visibility with a limited range of media tactics at their disposal. This imbalance forces smaller businesses to fight for relevance in a marketplace skewed in favour of big budgets.

Major platforms like Spotify, Amazon, Disney, and Paramount are now targeting SMBs with self-serve ad technologies. Whilst these options promise to simplify the advertising process, they threaten to add complexity and also demand more time from marketing teams that are already stretched thin, managing everything from operations to customer interactions. 

The promise of easier access to advertising options is somewhat negated when each option comes with its own buying platform to manage. A recent report by Constant Contact cited SMB owners as being ‘overwhelmed’ by marketing requirements. The feeling of being overwhelmed will only be exacerbated by the uncertainties of putting your brand into a new channel for the first time, without support.  

The impact of this disparity is significant, creating an uphill struggle for smaller independent ad agencies and in-house marketing teams alike. Without bargaining power or access to critical market data, smaller businesses often find it difficult to negotiate better rates or secure top-quality placements. As a result, their ability to reach new customers and scale is severely limited.

SMBs represent 99.9% of companies in the United States and are essential to economic growth, achieving an impressive 12.4% average growth rate, compared to the 5.2% growth rate of Fortune 500 brands. Despite this, these businesses are locked out of meaningful advertising opportunities due to the barriers posed by their lack of negotiating power. This leaves them reliant on a limited selection of often confusing tools and media, perpetuating a disadvantage that restricts SMBs access to new customers and compromising their opportunity to grow. 

The advertising industry needs an inclusive marketplace that empowers mid-sized brands and agencies to maximise their collective potential. Traditional media agency models are effective for large advertisers, but they’re inaccessible for smaller businesses. So where can smaller advertisers turn when big agencies are unaffordable and self-serve media is fragmenting into a variety of platforms?

Our solution is Media Disco. A platform that empowers smaller agencies and SMBs to harness their collective buying power and access premium advertising opportunities. Importantly, rather than continuing the trend of platform fragmentation, it aggregates high-impact channels into one buying tool. Advertisers can access everything from CTV on major streaming platforms to dynamic out-of-home placements, saving precious time and resources. All with an expert team overseeing and optimising the campaign behind the scenes. 

Pre-negotiated rates with a curated set of high-quality media partners also ensure that mid-sized brands and agencies receive the most cost-effective deals tailored to their goals. In short, Media Disco empowers advertisers to effortlessly launch high-impact, multi-channel campaigns through a streamlined buying process. The same is true for any lean team, whether at a brand or an agency.

The current imbalance in media access must be addressed for the advertising industry to foster an equitable environment for all advertisers to succeed and for the best adtech to grow. Media Disco offers mid-sized brands and agencies a centralised buying console with access to previously out-of-reach media.

In short, we enable them to compete on a level playing field.

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