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Serving Relevant Ads to International Visitors

  |  June 17, 2008   |  Comments

A startup promises to serve relevant ads to international visitors. Does it work?

Here in the United States, we tend to operate more insularly. But no one would deny that the Internet brings the world closer together. Finding information about happenings and companies in other countries couldn't be easier these days. Case in point: about a third of my agency's weekly Web-generated inquiries come from international visitors, and we're not even marketing ourselves abroad.

Oddly enough, if I wanted to, I could also reach my U.S. audience abroad, at least according to Cameron Yuill, founder and CEO of AdGent007, a new advertising solution developed to tap into international traffic to sites the world over. Yuill, an Australian native now settled in the U.S., says that international visitors make up anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the traffic on news and information sites across the globe, and this figure continues to grow as large, emerging nations like China and India add active users to the worldwide Web.

Monetizing this international traffic, however, has been harder for publishers. Serving an ad aimed at a British site visitor when that visitor is really from Hong Kong has obvious irrelevancy implications.

AdGent007, launched last year, has set out to provide solutions in a number of ways.

Advertising to Users the World Over

Yuill explains that international site traffic primarily begins with search. For example, someone seeking news on the latest advancement in a particular kind of medical treatment performs a Google News search for that topic. Search results yield listings of sites from around the world and the user chooses a site to visit.

Using AdGent007's tagging technology to identify the geo-location of that visitor, if it's determined that the visitor is from outside the publisher's domicile, ad serving switches over to AdGent007's platform to serve a more relevant ad. If no relevant matching ad exists, depending upon the publisher, a few options could occur: the impression could be turned back over to the publisher; AdGent007 could serve that publisher's "house ad"; AdGent007 could serve a survey to learn more about this international visitor base; or, the impression could be fulfilled by an AdGent007 or third-party ad network ad.

Enabling the Global Ad Buy

AdGent007 has built a global sales force to acquire premium publishers and advertisers. As the quantity of publisher relationships grows, so does AdGent007's ability to also facilitate a global ad buy. For example, if Coca-Cole wants to reach European buyers on European Web sites, its U.S.-based agency could turn to AdGent007 for help.

Benefits to Agencies

Yuill lists among AdGent007's benefits:

  • Premium Reach. AdGent007 only goes after the top publishers in each market and asserts that international visitors to sites tend to be in the premium audience bracket: wealthy, educated, business decision-makers who tend to be more loyal to their favorite content providers.

  • Improved ROI/Reduced Waste. Logically, Yuill believes that a Spanish-language AdGent007-served ad on a French site will outperform the French-language ad served to the Spanish visitor. Similarly, when using AdGent007, the advertiser's ad dollars are less likely to miss their target.

  • Transparency. AdGent007 ad buys are all transparent.

  • Standard Ad Units and Placement Types. The ad creative used for a "regular" media buy is no different than one used for international.

  • Global Media Negotiations. AdGent007's sales force negotiates ad buys so the media buyer doesn't have to. The buy is not auction or exchange based. Plus, there's the promise of a one-stop shop to conduct a global ad buy.

Still Early Stage

AdGent007's solution is intriguing, but still presents itself as fairly early stage. It's still working on building a complete profile of its audience. Answers to my questions about data reporting were vague (they use a DoubleClick DART platform for ad serving, so one would presume impression and click-through data is similar, but I'd like to feel that AdGent007 is able to provide me with better analysis of this alternative type of ad buy). If the network is transparent, I'd like to be able to preview a list of publishers before having to register, and as a visitor to the AdGent007 Web site, I'd like to see some data to support the claims of the volume of international site traffic to these popular premium sites.

CEO Yuilll acknowledges his company has some work to do in this area. Better break out the secret spy weapons and rescue the media buyer in distress!

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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