Tag Archives: AdReady

PaperG Launches Instant Ad Production for SMBs

PaperG, the “Flyerboard” provider of cheap self-serve ads on virtual bulletin boards, is moving up the value chain with the launch of “PlaceLocal.” The new insta-ad program builds ads around photos it finds on the Web or select from its collection of stock photos. The ads are combined with reviews, customer comments and other content. SMBs only need to enter their name and address to produce their ad.

PlaceLocal enables SMBs to revise ads based on new entries seen on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It also enables media companies to build ads on spec when they go on sales calls. It also enables still photos to have video-like “pan” capabilities, aka as the “Ken Burns effect.” Ads can also rotate testimonials that it finds on review sites.

PaperG CEO Victor Wong notes that PlaceLocal’s ad fees vary widely, based on publisher. But he notes that PaperG is aiming for about $1,000 a month, or more than double the $400 or so that Flyerboard typically yields. The new effort places PaperG more directly in competition with Seattle-based AdReady, which provides advertisers with hundreds of tested stock templates, and then places media for them. Wong also said that he expects some partners to use both products to appeal to different levels of SMB advertisers.

Hearst TV stations are among the first to try out the tech, deploying it on 29 websites. PlaceLocal has also been deployed on 32 additional local media Web sites (i.e. TimeOut New York). McClatchy newspapers are also set to launch it in some markets.

Wong also notes that the company, a Yale University entrepreneurial program, is moving from New Haven to San Francisco. It has 10-20 employees, and has raised over $1 million.

ILM: 09: Fox’s Warren Kay on Pros and Cons of Self-Serve

Self-serve is helpful but not really mainstream at this point, according to Warren Kay, Fox Audience Networks VP of Local Sales. Kay spoke on a panel at ILM:09 that also included iPromote CEO Michael Barr, AdReady Chairman Aaron Finn and PaperG CEO Victor Wong.

Noting that FAN has 35,000 advertisers ranging from national advertisers to small businesses, Kay said that self-serve is an excellent way to attract endemic advertisers for a particular site. “We see self serve can attract advertisers,” said Kay. He added that Fox has 15,000 + SMBs using Fox’s MyAds self-serve product, which launched a year ago, while Kay was still running local sales at Yahoo.

Yet, Kay added that he certainly doesn’t believe “build it and they will come” notion that self serve populates itself. “It is a little misguided,” he said, suggesting that for most categories, there is really no substitute for good old fashioned sales –especially sales that can leverage Fox’s extensive customer data, which can be used for more effective targeting. Nevertheless, he believes that self- serve has a “longer tail” and remains “a dynamic solution.”

Annenberg Summit for Community Sites Focuses on HyperLocal Commerce

More than 73 hyperlocalites participated last Friday Dec. 4 at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism to discuss not only hyperlocal journalism but sustainable hyperlocal commerce as well.

The meeting, “Entrepreneurship and the Community Web, was convened by Annenberg’s Executive in Residence David Westphal (and captured on video here). From what I could tell, it was the largest California summit for hyperlocal, and brought together what U.S. Local Media News Network President Chris Jennewein called “all the optimism in journalism.”

Besides U.S. Local Media News Net, hyperlocal and regional sites represented at the summit included such pioneering sites as Newwest.net, Oakland Local, Sacramento Press, BargainBabe LA, Coastsider, Edhat, SantaCruzwire, EmpireReport, Blogdowntown and Spot.us.

I had the privilege of setting the stage early in the program. In my comments, I noted that the local online industry has taken some interest in the success of hyperlocal sites, and it isn’t entirely altruistic – hyperlocal sites can provide larger media and directory sites and networks with content, search engine positioning and additional outlets for targeted advertising.

But hyperlocal sites aren’t waiting to be aggregated by others. Many are developing self- sustaining models on their own, with some experimenting with various ad formats, including banners, text ads, directories, classifieds, local/lifestyle ads and cross-overs into print and video products as well.

Industry consultant Elizabeth Osder complained that such a bifurcation into different ad products is all too academic. “It’s all one database,” with advertisers assembling their own custom promotional packages, she noted. That’s probably right.

I additionally noted that sites using self-serve tools such as adReady and PaperG are helping hyperlocal sites make revenues without having to develop and manage a sales force. Several hyperlocal sites that work with PaperG, for instance, made “five figures” last year from using PaperG’s self serve classified and display tools, according to site founder Victor Wong, in a conversation I had with him aside from the conference.

Looking forward, hyperlocal sites are especially well positioned to leverage relationships with local businesses to provide a wide range of services that go beyond advertising, including website development, reputation management, search engine optimization and “street team” support representing advertisers at fairs, concerts and other events.

One model advanced at the conference is to have hyperlocal sites band together and sell network advertising – a concept promoted by SacPress Co-founder Ben Ifeld. Like the five partner Next Door Media network in Seattle, SacPress is in the process of tying together 18 local sites in the Sacramento area that cumultatively bring in a half million monthly visitors. The Sacramento area boasts “a vibrant local media ecosystem, with some sites focusing on entertainment,” noted Ifeld. “Some have a sales force, some don’t. A couple of people are Web developers and building things for their neighborhoods.”

Especially eyed by Ifeld are regional advertisers currently paying up to $5,000 for a glossy ads in a regional magazine. Members of his Adify-powered network provide a better reach with better context than the magazine, he said. They can take those riches and divvy them up.

Ifeld also said the ad network is only the first stage of a collaboration among the sites. “Maybe we’d share content; maybe we’d collectively bargain with larger media companies to sell content; or set up a single sign on or run co-promotions. But first we have to get together in a room.”

Some sites at the meeting see better opportunities (i.e. more money) from taking a non-profit route. LA’s first rate Downtown Blog, for instance, said after much internal debate, it decided to set up as a nonprofit 501 C.

Just because it won’t set an ad rate doesn’t mean that it doesn’t want to work with local SMBs, however. But the site would rather work with such businesses on a contribution basis. In fact, it has made SMB support an integral part of the site, providing them with directory listings, home page Tweets and weekly email.

“We just want to serve the people who live and work downtown said site founder Eric Richardson, who had been at it since 2004. “Philosophically, I like being able to say we are non-profit community project. We can target foundations and people like that much more likely to support 501c than for profit business.

To Richardson, in fact, it isn’t especially appealing to partner up with content hungry sites such as The Huffington Post LA or perhaps, Examiner.com. While they’d drive up traffic counts, their audiences may be broader and less focused than is desired. “We don’t just want to throw content out there,” he said.

Another site, Edhat of Santa Barbara, hopes to make a go of it largely from voluntary paid subscriptions. Founder Peter Sklar noted that 450 of its 7500 e-newsletter subs have agreed to pay $1 per week – not enough to get anyone rich, but enough to continue to add resources. The site has greatly benefited from a shift in community support from the community’s troubled newspaper, he noted.

Other sites at the conference, however, frankly acknowledged that they are more oriented towards the journalism and really haven’t focused on self-sustaining models. Such labors of love will need to evolve to keep going for the long term. A major interest is to make sure that the writers can get paid for their work. Many rely on all-volunteer staffs today.

The ILM:09 Lineup: Dec. 9-11 in LA

The lineup for BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media ’09 is really taking shape. The speakers truly represent a “who’s who” of what’s going on in the space that is interesting, progressive and important.

ILM is the culmination of this year’s research and analysis, and takes place Dec. 9-11 at our favorite hotel, The Century Plaza in LA. Here’s the registration info. And here’s the current lineup.
Willow Bay, Senior Editor, Huffington Post
Cory Bergman, Director, New Product Development, MSNBC.com
Matthew Berk, Executive VP, Product Engineering, Marchex
Jason Boseck, President, Parking Data Ventures
Neil Budde, President and Chief Product Officer, Daily Me
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Executive in Residence, Accel Partners
Surojit Chatterjee, Product Manager, Google
Darrin Clement, CEO, Maponics
Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle
Geoff Donaker, COO, Yelp
Aaron Finn, President and CEO, AdReady
Matt Howard, CEO. SMBLive
Mark Josephson, CEO, Outside.in
Warren Kay, VP, Local, Fox Interactive Networks
Tim Kendall, Director, Monetization, Facebook
Cyrus Krohn, Director, Online Services Programming, Microsoft
Chris LaSala, Director, Local, Google
Warren Lee, Venture Partner, Canaan Partners
Lem Lloyd, VP, U.S. Partnerships, Yahoo
Scott Moore, U.S. Executive Producer, MSN, Microsoft
Mike Orren, President and Founder, Pegasus News
Geneva Overholser, Director, USC Annenberg School
Meredith Papp, Director, Product Marketing, Google
Jim Pastor, Senior VP, ESPN Local Digital
Kevin Ryan, CMO, WebVisible
Lori H. Schwartz, Senior VP, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab
Doug Scott, VP of Marketing, RMG Networks
Julia Scott, Chief Blogger and CEO, BargainBabe LA
Andy Simms, Director of Advertising Programs, Skype
Scott Tobias, President and COO, Village Voice Media
Kinsley Wilson, SVP and GM, NPR Digital
Victor Wong, CEO, PaperG
Michael Yang, Venture Partner, Comcast Ventures

Hearst Newspapers Launches PaperG’s Self Serve ‘Flyerboard’

Newspapers want to attract smaller local advertisers. To get there, they’ll need self serve solutions. The accounts aren’t valuable enough to assign feet on the street. It would be helpful if they were simple and intuitive as well.

That’s what AdReady, Wave2 Media and 2AdPro have done with solutions for various newspapers that enable prefabricated templates, in AdReady’s case, and fast production of ads, a specialty of Wave2 and 2AdPro.

New Haven-based PaperG is going in a different direction with its Flyerboard product, which lets advertisers instantly create and stick ads up with virtual “thumb tacks,” bulletin board-style. The ads can be hyperlocalized for different zones, and can be themed for certain categories (i.e. babysitting services).

To post, users submit a graphic file. The file is then converted into an interactive ad with various kinds of online functionality, allowing viewers to share it via email and social networks, and locate businesses with online map services

For the past several months, The Flyerboard has been tested by a number of papers, including The Houston Chronicle, The Boston Globe’s Your Town hyperlocal site. It has also launched on other Websites, including Parenthood.com, mtvU’s College Media Network and 50 other sites. Today, PaperG announced a formal relationship with Hearst Newspapers for 15 of its newspapers, including The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Albany Times Union and The San Antonio Express News.

CEO and Founder Victor Wong says Hearst signed after a multi-month test with The Houston Chronicle, which “achieved nearly six figures revenue in the first month” and “is still quickly growing. Sales representatives tell us it is a much easier product to sell than previous offerings, and they can get advertisers who spend between $100 and $10,000,” says Wong.

Top verticals that have been monetized by Chron.com include communities, entertainment, life, sports, moms, real estate, autos and jobs. “We’ve seen a wide spectrum of local advertisers including restaurants, retail stores, service providers, non-profits, real estate agents and auto dealers, “says Wong. “You can see that we have strength in traditional classifieds segments as well as new classified segments like event listings and local promotion listings.”

Wong cautions, however, that the Flyerboard “isn’t a substitute for existing advertising. As reported by the sales people, most revenue is new revenue from new advertisers. We are primarily growing new revenue streams with our partners.”

The service also doesn’t have the flexibility to be totally customized. For instance, advertisers are locked into appearing in a certain part of the page, with good but limited functionality. They can’t post IAB standard ads, for instance. But for those advertisers that can live with that, PaperG certainly represents a new, less expensive option.

Yahoo to White Label AdReady’s SMB Banner Effort

AdReady’s template banner ads and media campaigns for SMBs will soon be available via Yahoo. The deal represents a major win for AdReady, which is already re-sold on a white-label basis by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Univision and MSNBC and runs 10,000+ ads a month.

SMBs who wouldn’t ordinarily take the initiative to hire creative can use AdReady’s products to launch a Web campaign, with AdReady acting as the agency. They can choose among 800 free templates for banners and have them customized for a media campaign, complete with analytics. Top categories include travel, auto, retail stores, entertainment, politics, health and finance (especially foreclosures and debt consolidations). The company adds and detracts various templates based on their effectiveness.

AdReady’s chief advantage is cost savings. Typically, minimums range from $5k to $25k for the premium service, although advertisers can start as low as $300 per month with self-service. That’s a significant advantage in an environment where the previous minimum display campaign on NYTimes.com ran $10,000 per month.

Yahoo’s use of AdReady sets it up for a theoretical conflict with its newspaper consortium partners. Hearst, one of the major players in the consortium, complained to Forbes that it is seeing Yahoo! telemarketers target some of its largest advertisers, including car dealers and furniture stores.

The perceived conflict may be overstated since newspapers (who are also free to work with AdReady, obviously) don’t generally provide the creative for their advertisers. Yahoo says the effort is largely aimed at upgrading its search advertisers.

AdReady: Growth for Builder of Insta-Display Ads for SMBs

AdReady, the Seattle-based media placement firm and builder of display ad templates for SMBs, has long been on our list of “most interesting” local services. And that was before it signed white-label deals with The New York Times, Boston Globe and MSNBC.com.

Last week, I dropped in on AdReady at its offices in the progressive Fremont section of Seattle. I met with President and CEO Aaron Finn, who founded the 40-person company in June 2006 with several colleagues from Classmates.com, and SVP Mark Feldman, a former AOL exec who runs sales and business development.

Finn noted the rapid evolution of the company, which has raised $12 million in two rounds from Madrona Venture Group, Bain Capital Ventures and Khosla Ventures. While the company has “doubled” its direct sales team to six in the past few months, half its sales are now coming from indirect partners such as The New York Times and Reader’s Digest’s Allrecipes.com. AdReady also provides the backbone for Yahoo’s MyDisplay ads. Several additional partners will be named within the next several weeks, added Finn.

“The indirect side may outscale us,” said Finn. “It should grow faster.” The indirect partners especially like AdReady’s efficiency. “It halves the sales time for the Reader’s Digest sales staff,” he said. “It empowers them to sell” instead of focusing on ad logistics. It also helps publishers keep their inventory at premium levels, rather than forcing them to sell at remnant levels, which can be 1/10 as high.

On the direct side, major accounts include a number of Seattle-based firms, including RealNetworks and Alaska Airlines. The Atlanta Hawks, TaxAct and Rally Software are examples of clients from outside the area.

For small businesses, a major benefit of AdReady is cost. Typically, minimums range from $5k to $25k for the premium service, although advertisers can start as low as $300 per month with self-service. That’s a significant advantage in an environment where the previous minimum display campaign on NYTimes.com ran $10,000 per month.

The use of the company’s 800 ad templates is cited as another key advantage for SMBs. The templates, which are both built in-house and outsourced, include such categories as travel, auto, entertainment, politics, health and finance (especially foreclosures and debt consolidations).

It isn’t just about the creative, either. Advertisers can see analytics on clickthrough rates for each template. “If you are an auto dealer, you can go to the best performing auto ad,” said Feldman.

In addition to clickthrough, AdReady’s analytics reveal other strategic information about the ad. “For example, changing the background color can have a 100 percent difference in the ad’s performance,” he said. “AdReady removes costs and barriers and opens up the banner market to a whole new set of advertisers.”

Finn and Feldman acknowledged that a lot of SMBs aren’t even thinking of display because the barriers to entry have historically been too high — if they think of online at all. “They typically start with paid search and natural search,” said Feldman. “We allow more participants to come in and buy inventory.”

Last April, Google made AdReady a certified reseller. It was Google’s first reseller to exclusively sell display, rather than display and search. The Google display ad builder was launched in October.