In case you missed it, the latest release of iOS enables users to install content blockers on their mobile devices. While this may sound innocuous, it could result in a seismic change for the ad tech industry.

Ad and marketing tech companies will need to be more innovative than ever to differentiate themselves, and some have already taken unique approaches to standing out by focusing on specific needs that aren't being met by other players.

Here some innovative companies bringing something unique to the ad and marketing tech world:

1. SmartyAds - Big data and machine learning

If you're not an expert, ad and marketing tech can be a confusing landscape of buzzwords and concepts. One company, SmartyAds, is aiming to serve as a full-feature ad exchange service for those who aren't completely fluent in the industry.

The company provides solutions to help businesses buy, optimize, and track all their existing media. With programmatic, real-time ad buying and premium inventory, the company provides an all-in-one experience for publishers and advertisers.

Using big data and machine learning, SmartyAds transforms information into attainable traffic and revenue, helping publishers and advertisers manage the overwhelming quantity of online media.

1. The Deck - Designer ads

Annoying, unsightly, or irrelevant ads have cast the ad tech industry in a bad light. The Deck is working to change this perception. This ad network targets "creative, web, and design culture." It has taken an "exclusive" approach to advertising by allowing only 33 ads onto its network per month. In turn, those ads are displayed on a relatively small network of sites -- 52 is the recent count.

One well-known site featuring ads from The Deck is Apple blogger John Gruber's Daring Fireball. Following the release of iOS 9 and its content blocking feature, The Deck updated its privacy policy, which Gruber labeled "a good read." This kind of branding is unique from the rest of the industry, which strives to be as invisible and anonymous as possible.

3. Cydersoft - A custom solution for video advertising

With video consumption continuing to grow at almost unstoppable rate, companies focus on video advertising to monetize the space. Though they've been featured before videos for a long time, pre-roll ads continue to feel disconnected from the content that follows them.

Cydersoft hopes to change this by showing viewers ads they will actually want to see. The company's solution looks at demographics and other contextual data, such as location, to provide a better video ad experience.

Cydersoft partnered with a new sharing solution that targets end users and allows them to monetize the sharing of online videos. With Alfa Share, users simply share popular videos on their social profiles and they earn a share of the ad revenue those videos generate.

4. Niche - Celebrity marketing

Indeed, the key to ad and marketing tech success is finding a niche audience to which the company can cater. The company Niche took this to heart in both its name and focus. It focuses on matching marketers with social media stars and influencers.

Think of all those powerful users on social platforms like Twitter and Vine. They have incredible power to reach audiences, and this represents a huge opportunity for marketers. In fact, the opportunity was so big, Niche was acquired by Twitter.

5. Wishpond - Free marketing automation

The marketing automation industry aims to make it much easier for small businesses and enterprises to manage marketing campaigns. Yet, struggling to find the right mix of pricing and features, many of these companies haven't done as well as other ad technologies.

Wishpond is shaking up the industry by introducing a new pricing tier: free. The company will allow SMBs to access a "free forever" plan, with which they can generate up to 200 leads a month. This kind of freemium model is well-known from other industries, but is relatively new to marketing tech.

As big-name companies like Apple create seismic change in the ad and marketing tech industries, these lesser-known companies are shifting the industry to adjust. While the future of ad tech is difficult to see, it's clear that this industry will continue to attract investment and innovation as it faces new challenges.

What about you? What ad and marketing solutions have grabbed your attention? Let me know in the comments.

Published on: Oct 1, 2015