Former AdMeld CEO Launches Sourcepoint, Raises $10 Million Series A

Ben BarokasBen Barokas – whose company AdMeld was purchased by Google in 2011 – unveiled his latest venture Thursday: Sourcepoint.

The company, through which publishers can ask their audience to support the content either through general advertising, interest-based advertising or subscription, also raised a $10 Million Series A round Thursday, led by Spark Capital and Foundry Group.

Barokas created Sourcepoint to address publisher pain points around ad-blocking software and mobile monetization.

“There isn’t a transparent transaction between consumers and publishers,” Barokas said. “We’re providing publishers with a whole array of options, offering the user a different message in order to compensate the publisher.

Barokas left Google in January, three years after the acquisition. He launched Sourcepoint immediately after. Joining him in the launch are Brian Kane, the former COO of LiveRail, and Geir Magnusson, the former CTO of AppNexus.

Sourcepoint brought on a who’s who of individual CEO investors as well: Michael Barrett of Millennial Media, Joe Zawadzki of MediaMath, Jonah Goodhart of Moat and Matt Keiser of LiveIntent.

The question of how users can or should support publishers has been addressed through ad blocker court cases in Europe. Some sites, like Hulu, require users to turn off ad blockers in order to view content. And Google launched Google Contributor in November, allowing users to pay a monthly fee to reduce their ad load.

“[Google is] solving for a very small part of the equation,” Barokas said, adding that Contributor appeals to a user’s sense of moral conscience, limiting its adoption. Publishers, Barokas said, need more than a voluntary commitment from their audiences.

“There’s an existential crisis that’s occurring,” Barokas said. “I came to the understanding that Google wasn’t in a rush to solve the problem.”

But Barokas said this problem is urgent, especially as browsers offer native ad blocking, like Apple’s recently updated iOS that allows for the development of apps that block ads on the Safari mobile browser.

Barokas said the toughest part of designing Sourcepoint was solving for all stakeholders: publishers, users and advertisers. “There’s going to be so many levels of complexity for how we restore balance and provide balance to constituents,” Barokas said.

Sourcepoint’s product exists today as a “good working version” with dozens of beta publishers, Barokas said. It will roll out additional functionality down the line. Barokas is offering the product free for now, like he did with AdMeld, in order to prove the value of the product to publishers.

Down the line, it will work on a software-as-a-service model, with Sourcepoint taking a cut of the revenue recovery, or what publishers bring in from subscriptions or ad revenue from former ad blockers.

Publishers implement Sourcepoint via tags or APIs, Barokas said, depending on the complexities of a publisher’s content management stack. User preferences – like if they decided to subscribe or see relevant ads – are stored in “multiple ways,” he said, and include cross-device capabilities.

“I hope we start to create an understanding in the mind of the user that there needs to be a transparent exchange of value,” Barokas said.

 

 

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