ADOTAS Conversations: Yoav Shaham, Founder and CEO, Kontera


Search engine marketers bank on the fact that when you search for an item or topic, their site or ad will catch your eye. In reality, though, how much of their overall online time do users actually spend searching? Studies revealed that the answer is not much. Searches, even if frequent, are quick, and the remainder of the online visit demands greater advertiser attention.

Since users spend so much time looking at content, there was clearly an advantage in utilizing content pages for advertisements. But banner and text ads were easy to avoid, while other mediums could be intrusive. Yoav Shaham saw an opportunity to do something different with the content pages to include advertising that not only refrained from invading the online experience, but more importantly, was relevant.

Already fond of working with numbers, Shaham summoned his experience with computers, business, and contextual advertising at eZula to launch Kontera, an in-text advertising solution. In short, Kontera developed a system that finds contextually relevant keywords on a publisher’s web page in real-time and automatically matches them to relevant ads presented as in-text sponsored keyword links. Users view the ads only when they mouse-over, making it an extension of the content, and the degree of relevancy makes the user more likely to click on a link and act on the offer.

Early last month, Sequoia Capital and Lehman Brothers took notice of Kontera’s highly technological approach in light of scarce advertising real estate and the high demand for online advertising inventory. The companies entered into a deal to provide Kontera with $7 million in funding, reflecting a growing investor interest in the online advertising space. Shaham recently spoke with ADOTAS to give us a rundown of just how Kontera began quietly inserting relevant ads, what he feels about in-text competitors, and why relevancy is king.

So, to start off, how did you get into online advertising?

We got into online advertising when we saw that the problem with search is that users are only using search 5% of the time when they are online. The other 95% [spent engaging with content] was not utilized well enough for advertising. So we decided that there is a huge opportunity here to get into a new market and it started with in-text advertising.

What were you doing prior to Kontera?

I was on the management team of eZula [a contextual advertising solutions provider for online advertisers and publishers]. Prior to that, I studied computers and business at [school].

So what would you say in-text advertising brings that is different from other advertising approaches? How does it have a greater appeal?

That’s a great question. In-text advertising basically answers a need for the three types of players that we see in our market, whether it is the advertisers that are having [supply shortages] for their needs, or whether it is the publishers that are looking to make incremental dollars, which means making more dollars on their pages.

We allow them to make additional revenue from the webpage because in-text advertising can reside together with Adsense, with the banners of other players, and just provide additional dollars. Then there are the users, of course, [whom] we allow to see relevant information, and relevant advertising while they’re browsing the Web, when the companies provide them with an additional way of interrupting the content online.


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