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Digital publishing veteran Scott Moore says his new company can help fight bad ads

He’s running Ad Lightning, a startup funded by Sinclair Broadcasting.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Scott Moore, a longtime digital publishing executive, has a new job: A startup aimed at digital publishers.

Moore is the CEO of Ad Lightning, which describes itself as a “business intelligence” service for digital publishers. Ad Lightning is supposed to let publishers identify ads on their sites that slow down performance and wreck user experiences.

Ad Lightning is a spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, a Seattle-based startup incubator. It is launching with $2 million in seed funding, led by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Moore spent years running big web publishing operations, including long stints at Yahoo and Microsoft. Most recently he ran, then sold, Cheezburger, the digital publisher best known for its embrace of cat photos.

Moore says that job exposed him to the dominance of programmatic — that is, automated — ad sales, and the problems those ads can create when crummy ads are mixed with good ones.

“As soon as programmatic exploded, our ad quality went way downhill, which decreased our user experience, which increased the adoption of ad blockers,” he said.

For now, Ad Lightning won’t remove bad ads. Instead, publishers are supposed to report the offending ads to the ad tech companies that sold them, so they can block them.

Eventually the company may work with digital ad sellers and exchanges to deliver higher-quality ads, Moore says.

This article originally appeared on

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