ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE – AdBrite bills itself as the Internet’s Ad Marketplace – it also places a high premium on transparency, saying it’s the “world’s most trusted and transparent marketplace for digital advertising.” We sat down with CEO Iggy Fanlo to find out more about AdBrite’s mission. Here’s a peek at the exchange:
ADOTAS: Why was AdBrite launched and has its mission changed since 2002?
IGGY FANLO: AdBrite’s original purpose was to make it easier for Web site publishers to sell ads. Publishers placed a “Your Ad Here” link on their site, set their prices, and we did everything else: scheduling, billing, customer service, reporting, and so on.
In 2006, with over 20,000 sites using AdBrite, we expanded our focus to also make life easier for advertisers. We made it possible for advertisers to easily create campaigns that target any subset of the 82+ million users we reach – based on geography, demographic targeting, content type and other criteria.
We provide a level of transparency and control that makes it possible for both direct-response as well as brand advertisers to safely reach the consumers they want, across our large network of more than 50,000 Web sites. Some of the more well-known advertisers who use AdBrite’s marketplace include: GM, Target, Kodak, Verizon, AT&T, Live Nation and Sony-BMG.
Our mission is to create the world’s most trusted and transparent marketplace for digital advertising.
ADOTAS: Will you tell me a little bit about your history with AdBrite?
IGGY FANLO: AdBrite was founded in 2002 by Philip Kaplan and Gidon Wise, with the mission I just described above. The company incorporated and took its initial funding from Sequoia Capital in the fall of 2004, and that’s when the growth really started to accelerate.
By mid-2006, the business had grown to significant size, and Philip, who was CEO for the first several years, brought me in to lead the next stages of growth for the company.
ADOTAS: What did you do before you joined AdBrite?
IGGY FANLO: I spent most of the ’80s and ’90s on Wall Street, most recently as a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley. In 1999 I made a major career change and entered the internet space. I was president of Shopping.com from 1999-2006. SHOP went public in 2004 and then was acquired by eBay in 2005. After Shopping.com, I was planning to take some time off, but I was so excited about AdBrite’s position and opportunity that I jumped right back in.
ADOTAS: How did your previous jobs prepare you to run AdBrite?
IGGY FANLO: I’ve spent the last 20 years running trading operations and building internet ad businesses. Leading a market-based online advertising platform has allowed me to draw on my background in both areas.
There are aspects of our business that are very similar to how the financial markets operate. For example, our core process is matching supply (from publishers) and demand (from advertisers) in a real-time auction.
As a former trader, I am a firm believer in the power of clarity and incentives. We set up our marketplace, and run our company, to provide information that empowers ad buyers and sellers to make the right decisions and achieve their goals most efficiently.
ADOTAS: AdBrite says it’s more transparent than any other ad network out there. What do you mean by this? Do you believe this has helped your bottom line and if so, why?
IGGY FANLO: With AdBrite, advertisers can see every site on which their ad has ever appeared. We provide instantaneous and detailed reporting about every ad on every site, such as how many times an ad was shown, how many times it was clicked, and the conversion rates of those clicks. Advertisers can stop their ad on any site, or increase its exposure. This is especially important for brand advertisers who want a large reach on the Internet, but are concerned with where their ads might appear.
Similarly, publishers see every ad that has run on their site, and can choose to approve an individual advertiser or creative before it runs. This is a big selling point for our premium publishers, who want to know and control which ads run on their sites.
Our transparency and reach of over 82 million unique users in the U.S. is the reason why so many top brands work with AdBrite, including GM, Target, Live Nation, Verizon, AT&T, Kodak and Sony. We often hear from our customers that AdBrite is the only ad network they work with.
Direct-marketers enjoy the transparency as well, which helps them better optimize their campaigns. Transparency breeds trust, and drives our business.
ADOTAS: How is AdBrite going to grow in this challenging economic environment?
IGGY FANLO: I’m very bullish about the prospects for the online ad market. I think the economic softness will accelerate the growth of online ad spend, as marketers spend on the parts of the mix that are most efficient and measurable.
The online ad industry has a much stronger foundation now than in the last economic cycle. Today’s online market is fueled by a very diverse base of advertisers. Big companies and small ones. Major brands and savvy direct-marketers. Search, display and other ad formats provide multiple options for advertisers.
GM just announced that half of their ad spend will be online by 2010. That’s further evidence that the shift to online is a secular shift, not a cyclical one.
ADOTAS: How would you say that AdBrite REALLY differentiates itself from its
IGGY FANLO: Reach is one of our big advantages. We reach 82 million unique users per month in the U.S., and serve ads on nearly a billion page-views per day. We have 50,000 websites in our network, second only to Google AdSense. We’ve made great progress with major publishers too, and now serve 8 of comScore’s 20 largest US media properties. According to comScore, we are the largest privately-held ad network by page-views, and the fourth largest network overall just behind Yahoo, Google, and AOL’s Advertising.com.
In addition to reach, AdBrite’s capabilities are different in three key ways.
First, our self-service model. AdBrite’s heritage is as a self-serve marketplace. We’ve added a top-notch sales and account management team for larger customers, but we continue to get rave reviews for our self-serve interface. Advertisers and site-owners can sign up on our site and be up and running almost instantly. Our self-serve model allows us to add thousands of new sites and advertisers each month, and efficiently serve a lot of customers that our competitors can’t.
Second, our transparency. As I mentioned earlier, this is a big differentiator for us, and allows us to work with a lot of high-quality advertisers who won’t work with “blind” networks or exchanges. No other ad network or exchange offers site-specific transparency at our level of detail.
Third, our ad formats. AdBrite features a horizontal ad platform that allows advertisers and publishers to buy and sell banner ads, text ads, Full Page Ads, inline ads, and video and photo monetization, all from a single consolidated interface. BritePic and InVideo were two of our early format innovations, allowing publishers to offer enhanced interactivity and monetization for still images and online video, respectively. Our Full Page Ad allows advertisers to insert their fully-interactive landing page into the browsing path of targeted users. Spottt, our recently-launched service, provides free advertising to site owners and bloggers via a free link exchange.
ADOTAS: Do you think AdBrite’s new network partnerships could change the ad marketplace and if so, why?
IGGY FANLO: I view our Network Partnerships program as an extension of our core business. We’re thrilled to have other networks participating in our marketplace and bringing additional ad liquidity to the 50,000 sites that use AdBrite.
ADOTAS: What challenges have you seen as a company in growing and promoting your
IGGY FANLO: We’re growing at a brisk pace. We have grown to 50,000 sites from 20,000 sites over the past 18 months. We always want to do more, faster. In a dynamic market with lots of players, the hardest thing is to continue to offer the most effective capabilities while satisfying everyone’s individual requirements. Another challenge is piercing the noise to communicate our unique story. We think we’re doing well on both counts, but it is a lot of work.
ADOTAS: What would you like to say to the industry professionals reading this
article about ad networks?
IGGY FANLO: I’d like to make a clear distinction between transparency and commoditization when it comes to the ad marketplace.
Commoditization means all impressions are the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is a clear, broad consensus among advertisers that all impressions are not created equal. Unfortunately, in today’s generally opaque online advertising world, advertisers are forced to use publisher or publisher brand as the crude filter for quality.
While publisher brands matter, what advertisers really want is quality content and quality audience. Transparent ad marketplaces like AdBrite allow advertisers to get past the publisher filter and get directly to their actual targeting criteria. More specifically, with transparency, advertisers can reach their target audience alongside quality content far more cost effectively than simply relying on choosing publisher brands that they know and trust.