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Medialets Opens Private Marketplace for Premium Mobile Ads

  |  January 10, 2012   |  Comments

Buyers will use a dashboard that lets them discover, compare and buy media among publishers

Medialets announced Medialets Private Marketplace. The mobile rich media ad platform aims to increase ad-buying efficiency by letting brand managers buy directly from premium publishers using an invitation-only service. The company plans to work directly with publishers to provide streamlined rich media ad options.

In April, the company released Creative Builder, a mobile rich media creation tool to let agencies quickly build and distribute ads based on a selection of pre-constructed ad templates called Blueprints. The marketplace platform works in conjunction with Creative Builder.

"We've been systematically chipping away at the friction points," says Medialets CEO Eric Litman. "We're building a palette for brands to be able to do cool creative ads and entice brand dollars to come into the market, but it's still hard to execute brand campaigns in any digital medium."

According to Litman, agencies buying premium inventory waste a lot of time understanding what media are available and the creative specifications for ads, and then managing the purchasing process. Compounding the problem is that mobile media buys usually combine direct buys from publishers and purchases across networks.

"If they're running a campaign across 10 publishers, that's a minimum of 10 phone calls or emails - but it's more like 10 to 20 per publisher," he says. "Our marketplace allows buyers to find and plan inventory on nothing but the world's biggest publishers, with transparent pricing."

Buyers will use a dashboard that lets them discover, compare and buy media among publishers, as well as being able to view and compare pricing and specs for each piece of inventory in the marketplace.

Medialets also wants to reduce friction for publishers. Litman says that premium publishers want to reclaim their inventory from ad networks and standardize how they price and sell it, as well as handle mobile in the context of their other inventory.

Each publisher in the marketplace will be able to set prices individually for each buyer. They will decide which buyers get to see their inventory and set the price each advertiser will pay.

Trading desks and DSPs will be able to plug into the Medialets Private Marketplace, but publishers will be able to set pricing floors for real-time bidding and still limit which advertisers can see their inventory.

Medialets account reps will handle the account setup process.

Litman says Medialets has been able to bring in publishers that have been unwilling to work with ad networks or to list their inventory in real-time bidding exchanges.

"We've heard that publishers are eager for the opportunity to use something that is a complement to their direct sales efforts rather than the competition to that that almost every other tool has been," Litman says. "We're not cutting out the relationship between publishers and the agency. Those prices you see as a buyer are the ones you have already established."

The Medialets Private Marketplace also will provide consolidated metrics across campaigns.

In December 2011, Nexage opened a private mobile exchange that similarly lets publishers select which advertisers can see their inventory.

Asked to compare the two offerings, Litman said, "Our customers are nothing but premium publishers and nothing but brand advertisers. All the solutions that we are putting in place are focused on the needs and wants of that category."

The marketplace is in soft launch mode, running some early campaigns. Litman says that of the 200-plus publishers Medialets works with, approximately 40 have committed to use the marketplace.

He expects the company and its publishers will work through issues such as managing channel conflict as the marketplace evolves. But he doesn't believe it will replace direct sales. For example, large media companies sell anchor packages at the beginning of a season.

"Those won't go away," Litman says. "A lot of media is bought and sold in part because of belief in the content and in part because of the relationship between the buyer and seller. No tool is going to replace that part."

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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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