AdMarketplace Unveils Contextual Ad Network

Conducive Corporation’s adMarketplace is expected Wednesday to launch its own contextual display ad network, building upon the experience it gained running eBay’s keyword ad program.

“We’ve taken a lot of the learnings from that and repackaged it a bit into maybe an AdSense version of that system,” said Jim Waltz, president and CEO of Conducive, referring to Google’s contextual ad program.

The network officially launches with “thousands” of advertisers, Waltz said, most of which were recruited through direct sales. The company does get other paid ads from a third-party source, it said, but Waltz wouldn’t divulge that source. On the publisher side, adMarketplace has 60 sites signed, but Waltz said he’s bound by contract not to name them.

Waltz, along with COO and CTO Jim Sabella and director of sales Craig Paris, are all DoubleClick alums. DoubleClick ran several ad networks before getting out of the media business in 2002 to focus on technology. Waltz himself worked on the development of DoubleClick’s lower-end Sonar Network.

Like other contextual advertising networks, such as Google’s AdSense and Overture’s ContentMatch, adMarketplace uses technology that analyzes the content on the page and matches it with categories and keywords. It then serves ads from marketers who have bid on those categories and keywords.

adMarketplace also differs from contextual networks in important ways. It’s focusing on graphical ads, offering six IAB standard units — 600 x 400, 300 x 250, 468 x 60, 120 x 400, 120 x 600, and 728 x 90. Advertisers can use a Web-based tool to help in the creation of those ads, or upload their own .GIFs or animated .GIFs.

The focus on graphical ads, rather than text ads, also affects how adMarketplace handles the display of creative. Like Google and Overture, the company runs an auction-style pay-per-click marketplace, but the graphical approach means only one ad shows at a time.

“Bidding to be higher on a list doesn’t translate in that environment,” said Waltz.

To handle this, adMarketplace shows the top bidder’s ad the first time a Web surfer lands on a matching content page, and the second highest bidder’s ad the second time that person lands on a matching content page. That pattern continues, so lower bidders get shown less often.

“We believe there’s a very clear reason for one advertiser to bid more than the rest,” said Waltz. “They get the first shot at that user.” Waltz says the company’s testing shows that both propensity to click and conversion decrease after multiple exposures to ads in the same category.

Advertisers choose to target their ads either by keyword or by content category. The minimum bid is $0.30 a click, and advertisers must commit $100 when opening up their adMarketplace account. The company doesn’t have daily or monthly budget features yet, but hopes to add them sometime next year.

To be accepted as a publisher in the network, a site must have at least “several hundred thousand” impressions a month, Waltz said. Publishers also have to support at least one of the IAB-standard units adMarketplace is serving.

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