Adiant’s Premium-Only Network Adblade Launches Retargeting Feature

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ADOTAS – Yesterday, Adblade, the premium-only ad network operated by advertiser- and publisher-side digital media technology solutions provider Adiant, launched a self-serve retargeting tool, Adblade Retargeting, which the company explains can increase ROI noticeably. As Adblade puts it, its retargeting solution combines the potency of retargeting — delivering ads to customers who have already demonstrated interest in a particular product or service — and valuable placement among premium (in a statement, the company went so far as to call the inventory in play “ultra-premium”) inventory. Add to that the particular nature of Adblade’s NewsBullet ad units — they’re designed to resemble page content rather than ads, with a thumbnail image accompanied by a bit of text. Adblade boasts its NewsBullets are capable of delivering triple the conversion rates of standard ad units.

This is just the most recent in a series of innovations from Adiant. A little over a month ago, the company launched ManiRewards, which gives internet users real rewards (like discounts, free products, gift cards and so on) sponsored by participating companies just for picking up virtual badges as they navigate the web in their typical manner. That service seems consistent with the NewsBullet unit — valuable to brands, and somehow both eye-catching and unobtrusive to users.

Adotas spent some time on the phone with Adiant founder and CEO Ash Nashed (pictured) a while back for an overview of where the company’s been and where it’s headed. Its roots are in what he described as “a health info network. Half was an ad network. I’m a physician by training — I studied medicine.” As the network progressed, he said, it reached a point where “we were the second-largest company in the space, but we only had 10 million monthly unique users. We did a great job, but we had a limited top ceiling.” So, the company started publishing daily news, created publisher solutions and developed the NewsBullet unit. “We were able to get a lot of traction very quickly,” Nashed said. Now, he explained, “by reach we’re the largest premium ad network.” He estimated “probably over 200 million [uniques] in the U.S., and it’s only premium sites. It’s a significant reach.”

Nashed explained his executive team comes from both the ad space and the news space. “A lot of us came from a publishing background, myself included, so we understand the needs of publishers,” he said. And the company’s tech side offers real value for advertisers, he continued. “We have a ton of proprietary data,” he said. “We don’t work through exchanges the way our competitors do. We’ve build our technology to monitor every 15 minutes and optimize.” As such, he said, “We think we’re leaders in premium content. The majority of [Adiant] advertisers have been with us for several years.” He cited Yahoo, Accuweather, CSMonitor.com, local agencies and the websites of TV stations as some of the company’s partners. “We’re not running on heavy-duty user-generated content sites,” he pointed out. “These are all branded sites.”

These days, there’s a ton of talk about the SoLoMo convergence of social media, local business and mobile, and Nashed said his company has picked up the ball on that trend. “We have our own social network, but also pull in [content from] sources such as Twitter,” he said. “That’s just rolling out.” It launched a local/social news widget through local/social content curation platform CrowdCloud back in April, which Nashed said is operational “in 30 or 40 cities right now.” Adiant is also offering a private app for leveraging social media. “The app has a little more functionality than the widget,” he explained. On the user’s end, the app applies location tracking “only if you want them to. We’re very big on privacy.” He called the SoLoMo space “an ideal place for local advertisers.”

ManiRewards, launched last month as a “daily deals”-style offering (and one meant to address the issue that “great brands weren’t interested in discounting their products”), initially came out of the app space itself. “Interestingly, we started out thinking of ManiRewards as a mobile platform,” Nashed said. He and his team had seen some of the stats around repeat app usage — one study that made the rounds last year noted 26 percent of all apps that were downloaded were subsequently used only once. “We thought, ‘Boy, that’s a problem,'” he said. So they tried to find a partner to host a third-party reward programs — and when they couldn’t find a suitable partner, they took matters into their own hands.

Then they rethought the mobile-first aspect of their rewards program. “Looking at the data, we found there are a lot of fake clicks on mobile,” Nashed said. The badges users pick up with ManiRewards needed to be seen, and, he said, “people are not excited about seeing larger ads on mobile.” But now, he says, it’s working well. “We’re actually getting some good click rates,” he said. And the mobile side will be coming, he added. “Think about all the data we could give to publishers!,” he enthused. And that data, he said, could be used to determine which brands should work with which publishers to offer rewards.

In the meantime, Adiant continues exploring various aspects of the digital landscape with Adblade Retargeting. On the publisher/ecommerce side, it can be implemented with a single line of code on a website and deployed in about 30 seconds. On the advertiser side, it calls for only $50 to start and it launches with a straightforward CPM model. But, with the company’s  established history and readiness to explore new opportunities for both publishers and advertisers, we’ll certainly be hearing more from them again soon.

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