5 min read

Topsort Competitors & Alternatives

Sarah Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler
Updated on
September 19, 2023
Ad Server Comparisons

Topsort, a 2021 ad tech startup, is a retail-media focused ad server offering auction-based sponsored listings, banner ads, and video ads monetization. Their specialized ad APIs flex ease of use, GDPR compliance, and autobidding optimization. With a heavy focus in Latin America, they target small-medium size marketplaces. However, their niche approach and focus means that many retailers have to look elsewhere to build an ad platform that can compete with the likes of Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart. 

To take ad spend from these giants, retailers look to several Topsort competitors and alternatives to build a scalable ad platform that has all of the functionality and flexibility they need. This article presents Topsort’s competitors and offers alternate retail media solutions that can be broken into three categories: traditional retail media ad networks, building from scratch, or building with Kevel’s APIs. 

Topsort competitors and alternatives: Building with Kevel’s APIs

After working with dozens of global retailers and marketplaces like Edmunds, Delivery Hero, Shop Apotheke, iFood, Everli, and Cornershop, we’ve built an offering flexible enough for companies to build what they want on top of it, while standardized enough to launch and drive revenue quickly. 

Kevel offers a suite of ad APIs that publishers use to build their own retail media ad platforms, complete with native ads, sponsored listings, DOOH ads, video ads, banner ads, and more. With additional products to generate demand (Relay and Self-serve) and targeting optimization products like Audience, Kevel is building the full retail media stack for leading marketplace brands.

Kevel excels over Topsort because of its flexibility, customization, and depth of features. While Topsort enables retail media monetization, it’s ultimately limited in its targeting, auctions, delivery, and ad unit features. Kevel’s infrastructure APIs allow you to build a custom ad stack akin to Instacart, Walmart, and Amazon’s in weeks.

Kevel - Revel against (b)ad tech

When to consider Kevel:

  • You want total control of your retail media platform. Kevel is an infrastructure tool, making it easy to build and integrate your tech with and on top of ours. Marketplaces can easily use Kevel for the core functionality of their ad platform, while building their own UI or BI tools on top.
  • You think Topsort lacks functionality. Kevel offers a plethora of features not available with Topsort, including dozens of targeting capabilities, first-price and waterfall lottery selection methods, ad units beyond sponsored products/banners, forecasting, audience segmentation, relevancy, and more. With 13 years of experience, we’ve had a lot of time to build. While we provide similar autobidding and auction features as Topsort, we let you personalize your ad selection strategy within your decision requests. 
  • You want more than basic ad serving. Topsort is great for marketplaces new to the ad serving market, but won’t work for established publishers looking to take ad spend from big publishers like Amazon. Topsort is a great option for small-medium sized marketplaces that are new to advertising. Topsort provides efficient pricing options and limited resources for those new to developing media strategies.
  • You’re looking for a more differentiated offering. Not every retailer looks the same or wants their ad offering to be limited to sponsored listings. Go beyond with homepage carousels, skin ads, DOOH ads, audio ads, and more.
  • You want an experienced ad serving partner. With a decade plus of industry experience, Kevel is prepared to not just launch your ad tech, but support you through our personalized, solutions-focused Customer Success team.

When to think twice:

  • You want to launch in days. Kevel’s APIs require some engineering resources and typically launch in a few weeks. Ultimately, you dictate the speed of the integration, and we work as fast as you can.

“The flexibility of being able to pass additional parameters in the placement request and then target those using custom targeting in Kevel has been really powerful for us.” - Travis Taylor, Group Product Manager, Delivery Hero

Traditional retail media ad networks

1. CitrusAd

Like Topsort, CitrusAd’s platform is retail-specific. CitrusAd has a broad network of advertisers for a plug-and-play solution, offering simple integration for sponsored products, banner ads, and email ads.  

CitrusAd might not work for you if you’re looking for more customization. Additionally, their ad serving model isn’t built around auction functionality the way Topsort’s is, so if this is a paramount feature, Topsort might be the better choice.

citrus sponsored products

When to consider them:
  1. You need advertiser demand. As a retail media network, CitrusAd will bring advertiser demand immediately, making it easy to generate revenue and scale quickly. 
  2. You want offsite ad serving extensions. With CitrusAd, you can easily manage onsite and offsite ad serving within the same platform, streamlining your Ad Ops efficiency.
When to think twice:

1. Auctions are key. CitrusAd doesn’t offer the autobidding and second-priced auction focus that Topsort does. 

2. You want video ads. CitrusAd’s ad unit offerings are sponsored products, banners, email placements, and branded landing pages.

2. Criteo

Criteo has built the largest sponsored products ad network, making it easy for e-retailers to dip their toes into sponsored listings.

Criteo’s solution is mainly tag-based, resulting in ad blocking, page speed, and the potential for malware attacks.

Criteo Website

When to consider them:
  • You want access to Criteo’s proprietary retail demand.
When to think twice
  • You want a server-side solution. Criteo is more of a plug-and-play solution and lacks Topsort’s server-side APIs, causing latency and ad blocking.
  • You don’t like revenue sharing. Criteo operates under an opaque rev share model, while TopSort has more platform-based pricing.

3. PromoteIQ

PromoteIQ, bought by Microsoft in 2019, is another retail media focused platform that provides targeted sponsored listings. Integration is simple with tag-based ads, and like Criteo, they generate demand for your platform.

promoteiq sponsored products

PromoteIQ stands out in their flexibility with ad relationships. PromoteIQ allows you to manage direct deals and approve vendors before they appear on your site/app. 

However, PromoteIQ’s tag-based system still limits ad unit customization and targeting control.

4. GAM

With over 90% market share, GAM’s publisher-side ad server towers over competitors. GAM's' inherent problems, however, prove problematic for retailers. 

While GAM can offer sponsored listings and competitive pricing for small marketplaces, Topsort will excel over them in latency, privacy, and security.

Google Ad Manager ad server

5. Equaitiv

Equaitiv offers an SSP for publishers alongside an ad server. Their platform is less geared towards retailers, and while their audience solutions are more robust than Topsorts, Topsort is a better fit for small-midsize marketplaces looking to monetize their site and app.

6. Other retail media solutions

There are several alternatives beyond those specifically mentioned above, such as OnlineSales.ai, AdButler, and retailmediatools. These startups also offer self-serve platforms, and some even offer advertiser demand as well. 

OnlineSales.ai boosts advertiser demand and additional ad units like in-store and email ads, whereas AdButler highlights targeting and audience segmentation. Retailmediatools similarly broadcasts audience building, but also provides custom billing events. 

Topsort will bring similar experience and support as these niche retail media startups. They stand out in their auction functionality, but are similar in size and nature.

Building it entirely yourself

The other option is to build the retail media platform yourself. Such a project could take 10-20+ engineers and a few years. On the other hand, retail companies like Walmart and Amazon have driven billions from their homegrown solutions.

While this approach may provide full flexibility, it pulls resources from other projects and delays your new solution for at least a year. Topsort allows for fast integration and launch times, with the basic ad serving tech needs covered.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of building an ad server from scratch.

What are the next steps?

If you’re looking for an alternative to Topsort, we’d love to chat about the pros and cons of Kevel. You can reach out to us here

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