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First Annual ‘IAB 250 Powered by Dun & Bradstreet’ List Identifies Key ‘Direct Brands’ Worth Watching

Introducing the IAB 250-Powered by Dun & Bradstreet. Direct Brands Worth Watching 5

Economic Data from Dun & Bradstreet and Cultural Indicators from Other Sources Power List Of ‘Direct Brands’ Disrupting Incumbents in 15 Categories

PALM DESERT, CA (February 12, 2018) —The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today released the “IAB 250 Powered by Dun & Bradstreet,” a first-of-its-kind analysis that pinpoints the most important “Direct Brands” to watch in the U.S. economy.  The trade association for the digital media and marketing industries issued the directory at its IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, in advance of its publication of “The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy,” a groundbreaking study identifying supply chain, consumption, communications, and data trends that are shifting the center of growth in the American consumer economy.

“Direct Brands” identified in the IAB 250 roster include the cosmetics company Glossier, the luggage company Away, and the mattress company Casper, for example. Sometimes referred to as “digitally native vertical brands,” such companies are characterized by their reliance on digital storefronts that sell only their own branded goods, product development cycles continuously enriched by first-party data from their consumers, expertise in social media communications, and a marketing mix that blends highly scaled and targeted programmatic advertising with lifestyle-focused content marketing.

Although many such companies deliver goods directly to consumers, other “Direct Brands,” such as boutique craft breweries, still sell primarily at retail, but consider first-party data-gathering and analysis a core capability.

The association finds that such “Direct Brands” are gradually supplanting the “Indirect Brands” that have dominated the consumer economy since its origins in the late 1870s.

Companies on the list were selected through screening firmographic and economic attributes, derived from Dun & Bradstreet’s vast data set of over 290 million business records. This includes core data (Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S Number, Business Name), industry classification (SIC Code), employees, and corporate revenue. In addition, payment experience and inquiry data on these entities were used to create a look-alike model to scan the D-U-N-S universe of all entities.

Additionally, companies on the list were selected for their cultural impact, which was provided by a variety of data sources and includes factors like traffic to their digital properties, social media footprint, media mentions, and more.

The list covers 15 different categories; from apparel/fashion to consumer electronics and sporting goods to travel and hospitality, spotlighting a range of “Direct Brand” upstarts and brand incumbents that have successfully tapped into the direct brand movement. For example, here are the companies that made the cut in the pet care sector:

  • BarkBox
  • Ollie
  • The Farmer’s Dog

“We have entered a new era of brand creation—one in which ‘Direct Brands’ are not just nipping at the heels of traditional brands, but forging strong customer relationships, winning meaningful marketing share, and reshaping the way startups and incumbents alike are taking consumer goods and services to market,” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO, IAB. “The ‘IAB 250 Powered by Dun & Bradstreet’ will be a vital resource in tracking those ‘Direct Brand’ companies that are excelling across various categories, whether selling bed linen or pet food or eyeglasses. These are businesses that all brands, publishers, technology companies, and data providers need on their radar in order to thrive in the new direct brand economy.”

“The massive collision of commercial data and digital technologies gives business leaders the insights they always wished they had,” said Michael Bird, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Global Alliances, Partnerships and Audience Solutions, Dun & Bradstreet. “By exploring the data that illuminates relationships among these companies and their paths to—suppliers, vendors, marketing efforts—IAB members will have a robust and highly targeted list of companies to use for their business development efforts.”

“This list of 250 disruptors just scratches the surface of what the direct brand revolution is unleashing on the consumer landscape,” said Chris Kuist, Senior Vice President, Research and Impact, IAB. “Taking a deeper look at these diverse businesses, it becomes clear that their methods for engaging customers with genuine two-way relationships are a guidepost. Their strategies will inform the future of the consumer economy.”

The trade group plans to update the list with further data and insights in the months to come. To view the complete report, please visit


Brands were identified through the combination of their firmographic and economic attributes as represented in Dun & Bradstreet’s vast data set, and their cultural buzz and impact (factors like traffic to their digital properties, their social media footprint, number of press mentions, etc.) from a variety of sources and vendors, including CB Insights. IAB excluded brands from consideration if they did not create or curate physical products for purchase by consumers, or if their business model and/or supply chain did not align with the definition of a “direct brand,” as presented in the research.

About IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, it develops technical standards and best practices. IAB and the IAB Education Foundation are committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a San Francisco office.

About Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB) grows the most valuable relationships in business. By uncovering truth and meaning from data, we connect our customers with the prospects, suppliers, clients and partners that matter most, and have since 1841. Nearly ninety percent of the Fortune 500, and companies of every size around the world, rely on our data, insights and analytics. For more about Dun & Bradstreet, visit Twitter: @DnBUS

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]