Ad-tech has seen some tough times recently.

Undoubtedly, this has been most recently driven by accusations that programmatic placements on a global scale have accidentally funded terrorism, featuring hate speech and promoting other inappropriate content.

This new episode all came in the wake of last year’s controversy when online ads for U.S. presidential candidates were placed opposite terrorist content. YouTube and Google took the brunt of negative press and many high-profile brands pulled their ad spend. Since then, Google has worked on improving its policing policy to better reflect brand safety guidelines and prevent problems like this in the future. It remains to be seen if this will actually be successful.

Combine this with the fact that ad-tech funding is down an estimated $1 billion from last year and people are proclaiming the death knell of the industry. The figures are stark too, as funding declined by 17% from 2015. It may seem that this is the end of ad-tech as we know it, but I choose to take an alternate view: having worked in the industry for several years, I’ve been able to see how things change and evolve, always remaining flexible to advertising’s ever changing environment. Despite recent bad press, I see an opportunity to prove that ad-tech is an invaluable resource to combatting some of the industry, and society’s, biggest problems.

Ad-tech’s reputation isn’t too far gone – it can still be restored by focusing on what it does best: creating and utilizing technology to improve the ever-evolving user experience. Right now, people are fixated on brand safety and rightly so. Ad-tech is leading the way in trying to fix placement issues through identifying and flagging keywords and IAB categories on websites, making sure that the appropriate content is placed and avoiding embarrassing snafus like those experienced by YouTube and Google. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now the primary power to achieve this and I believe, revolutionize brand safety through the scope and scale of its reach. It can analyze and provide detailed data on hundreds of thousands of web pages instantly. This information, provided in real-time, means that brands and ad-tech suppliers and brands can take control of campaigns and make changes if necessary.

AI isn’t just great for advertising – it can also address the ever present controversies surrounding “fake news” and the serious complications it continues to cause. “Fake news” questions the legitimacy of online content and destroys trust between advertisers, brands, agencies, ad-tech suppliers and ultimately, consumers. Using AI to monitor and protect brands can restore and strengthen these relationships while putting a stop to the current flow of misinformation.

It is also worth noting the current environment the digital advertising industry finds itself in. The simple fact is that agencies rely heavily upon ad-tech to successfully run campaigns. This is evident when looking at the relationship between ad-tech and media agencies who, rather than adversaries, see each other as partners – one cannot exist without the other. As ad-tech has integrated, agencies have become increasingly able to understand their clients, their markets, and therefore their needs through analytic data provided by ad-tech. It’s this level of service that allows agencies to be agile and dedicate more time to creative strategy using insights and intelligence.

When looking at things from this perspective, it’s clear that agencies are best equipped to understand and interact with client’s needs while ad-tech partners are best positioned to help with delivery. Agencies recognise this, as 90% of agency marketers feel they have a close relationship with their ad-tech partners.

Undoubtedly, this year ad-tech has gotten off to a rough start, but the value and insight the industry can provide to the cannot be ignored – if anything, its ad-tech’s time to shine.