Aaron Finn is CEO of AdReady, an advertising technology company.
AdExchanger.com: Can you update us on current revenue and client momentum? Has the economy affected your business? Any surprises or trends you can share?
AF: We keep growing our client base and increasing revenue, and we’re still hiring to keep up with demand. The biggest change we’ve noticed with the poor economy is more scrutiny from advertisers on measuring every expenditure. Fortunately, that plays to our strengths, since the AdReady platform lets them analyze and update campaigns on-demand to maximize returns.
As an online media buying platform, it appeared AdReady was originally targeting the Long Tail of advertisers, i.e. smaller budgets, self-service, no handholding. With your premium services, you're tackling larger advertisers and agencies, too. Why the change?
We still put a large emphasis on the Do It Yourself (DIY) component of our business. The Premium offering is in response to some of our larger clients requesting more client service, based on their larger campaigns. Having an assigned account manager helps them track daily performance more effectively and optimize campaigns.
What is the revenue model with your agency partners? Per seat, per impression?
We have a one-time setup fee to pay for the development work of building a white-label solution. From here—like all of our partners and advertisers—we make a percentage commission/mark-up on the media purchased through the platform.
If you were a publisher, how would you prepare for the increasingly automated nature of online advertising?
Embrace technology. We built the AdReady for Publishers solution to help publishers get the most revenue possible out of their inventory and maintain a direct relationship with the advertisers. By using our service, they can better prioritize customers based on ad spend. Those under a certain spend threshold can work directly through the DIY interface, while those with larger budgets can work directly with the publisher sales teams. In that way, efficiencies are improved across the board.
What is your sense of the venture capital community today as it relates to advertising technology? Have they changed their strategy given the recent economic slide?
Not in our case. Here’s what Madrona’s Tom Alberg said recently, specifically talking about our focus: “We think there are opportunities in advertising still. Though advertising is down at the moment. Focused ideas around local advertising, targeting. We’ve got this company called AdReady, a self-service focus on banner ads. Banner ads have not been considered a hot area, but this company is already doing well. They’re growing every quarter.”
Is AdReady prepared for real-time bidding (RTB)? Is RTB important in your opinion?
AdReady already participates in a variety of auction-based exchanges and other types of inventory purchases on behalf of clients. We’re always researching and developing new options to push up ROI for customers. As more opportunities evolve to use this type of pricing, we’ll definitely look at them and may participate.
Would you characterize AdReady as an ad network or an ad exchange? Can you discuss the transparency available to buyers and sellers?
We are neither a network nor an exchange—we’re a technology platform focused from the advertiser’s perspective. We give advertisers all the tools they need to maximize their budgets and manage buys across all sources of display inventory including networks and exchanges. We give buyers the opportunity to choose their own media and determine pricing. For sellers, it depends on the product line.
How important is the "ad templates" component of your business model? This seemed to be a key part of AdReady's strategy originally. Where do you see it going?
Historically, the biggest barrier to display advertising has been the expensive creative process. It’s difficult for smaller organizations to repeatedly pay an agency $5,000 to $10,000 to come up with a set of banners for a campaign—and then to wait weeks for them to produce and deliver all seven IAB banner sizes. And even if they deliver on time, what if they don’t work? It’s hard to analyze and measure performance. With the AdReady platform and reporting, advertisers can make split-second decisions and immediate tweaks—and our agency offering helps agencies offer that same value. Creative and reporting will always be key issues, and our templates should keep helping customers solve a piece of that puzzle.
Attribution is a missing link for display advertising to date as search gets most of the credit at the bottom of the purchase funnel. How close is online advertising to a solution which can provide proper attribution to the demand generation of display? Does AdReady provide such a solution?
We track and report on a broad range of data. Customers get full transparency, in close to real-time, about what creative is performing best and which creative we recommend keeping or discontinuing—and all of this comes at the direct conversion level and through latent conversions. At the publisher level, you get a full range of metrics to maximize your ad spend, ranging from Cost Per Click (CPC), to Cost per Thousand (CPM), to total impressions, and pretty much everything in between. For premium customers, the Account Management team works on their behalf to maximize returns.