Traffiq Opens Online Ad Exchange to All Buyers, Sellers

After conducting a closed test of its new online ad exchange, Right Media and DoubleClick Exchange competitor Traffiq opened its marketplace to all buyers and sellers this week. The company’s aim is to give media buyers a great deal of transparency into all media that’s on sale, including competing bid information, a graphical view of the ad position that’s on the block, and historical pricing data for individual publishers.

I spent some time playing with the Traffiq search tool to query various media listings, and while the system is fairly buggy (it’s still in beta), it does provide an accurate and sizable set of available inventory based on a geographic, demographic or category-based query.

For instance, a search for healthcare-specific media reaching women aged 34 to 50 in North America turned up available inventory on LifeScript.com, eDiets.com and Medhelp.org/Childcare/maternal. Along with it were some placements of questionable relevance, for instance on Timeout.com, but these were few. Overall, the inventory was fairly premium… mostly above the fold and homepage placements. Where they weren’t on the homepage, the inventory seemed pretty targeted, as with the Medhelp impression block. Yael Yekutiel, Traffiq’s director of marketing and public relations, said the company is an appealing place for high-quality inventory since it lets publishers segment their audiences, which then generates higher marketer value and CPMs, creating a virtuous cycle of transparency.

“The exchange and its inherent business model reward those publishers selling ‘good’ media — traffic that is premium, targeted, and converts well for the buyers,” she said. “Sellers providing the most segmentation information about their inventory – precise demographics, geographical attributes, as well as clear ad placement details – will generate the most interest from buyers, and secure the highest CPMs and CPCs.”

Strictly in terms of the interface, my sense is the platform’s a few weeks shy of being advertiser-ready. Several of my actions on the site turned up error messages that forced me to hit the back button and start over. Also, it’d be nice if the search form was a little more integrated. As it stands now, you have to click away from the “geography” screen to add demographic preferences, and it’s not immediately clear that the geographic data is preserved.

One unique feature is a one-click purchase capability similar to Ebay’s “Buy it Now” feature. It lets sellers name a CPM that may be a little higher than they could command from an auction. Yekutiel said the feature’s been heavily used, indicating many buyers are willing to pay a little more up front to forego the bid monitoring part of the equation.

As with Right Media, ad serving is free, and the system can integrate with third party ad servers. Ad networks will be permitted to sell into the exchange, so transparency is not mandated — merely rewarded.

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