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As ad tech continues to advance and programmatic becomes de rigueur, you’d think managing advertising would be easier for publishers. But in some ways, it’s gotten more difficult for publishers to monetize content and optimize ad placement through complex tech stacks while focusing on their primary function: content.

This is where Freestar comes in. As we heard from company president Kurt Donnell on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast (listen above), Freestar frees up publishers to do what they do best while it takes care of ad monetization, especially through its speciality, header bidding.

“We’re a company that helps publishers optimize their monetization as a managed service, primarily as the programmatic side of things has gotten more and more complex over the past few years,” said Donnell. “It’s pretty difficult for folks to be both good content producers and then also good ad tech companies. We kind of step in and take care of that monetization piece for them, where we work with any number of demand partners to optimize their programmatic advertising stack, collect all that revenue, then write them a single check at the end of the month. So, they don’t have to deal with the ad tech piece, the engineering, and even the accounts receivable and analytics.”

Freestar works directly with publishers and shines with high-traffic, tier-one publications in finance and a few other verticals, including Fortune. One opportunity for growth could be with e-commerce providers, given that their return on ad spend is usually immediate through trackable conversions.

Donnell is also in the process of stewarding the company’s strategy in the wake of Google’s bombshell announcement that it will kill third-party browser cookies over the next two years. As he recently wrote in Street Fight, this is actually a good thing because it brings certainty to a market reeling of late over surprising and sometimes confusing privacy-related changes.

An obvious candidate to turn to for ad tech expertise, Freestar was recently named Inc 500’s fastest-growing company in America. Going from $100,000 in 2015 revenue to $37 million in 2018, it registered 37,000% growth. That led Donnell to the company’s scaling challenges.

“As part of our growth last year, we hired 30 employees into a company that was just shy of 50. So managing how you do that and maintain the culture was vitally important. I’m a big believer that if you take care of employees, they take care of customers, and a lot of the other things will take care of themselves. So, we wanted to be really thoughtful while still growing the team.”   

We discuss with Donnell on the latest episode of Heard on the Street. Check out the full episode above, find out more about Heard on the Street, and see our entire episode archive hereContact us if you’d like to sponsor an episode, and check out Street Fight’s media kit for the full slate of visibility options.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at