I spoke with John Marston today, CEO of AdEngage, an online advertising network that has the potential to turn the heads of both publishers and advertisers with an interesting solution that automates the process of buying and selling text links.
While the online advertising marketplace is currently dominated by the likes of Google and Yahoo (with MSN potentially making a move very soon), AdEngage has an offering that makes it a viable compliment to existing Web promotional campaigns. The one problem with contextual publisher solutions like Adsense is that you can't advertise (in every case) directly on the sites that meet your target demographic. AdEngage solves this problem by creating a marketplace that gives greater control to advertisers and publishers.
The advantage of AdEngage over these other high profile services (beside the relatively low cost-per-click pricing) is that advertisers have some interesting options at their disposal. What appealed to me was the opportunity to combine text and photos in advertisements. This visual emphasis (images are either 50x50 or 100x100) work to generate more attention from end-users and, in turn, more clicks to the advertiser's site and more revenue for publishers from remnant ad space.
Currently displaying around 15 billion impressions per month, Marston said what he and AdEngage are hearing from advertisers is an "... increasing desire to get more and more segmented about where they are finding their audience." The solution is a seven day rolling average - a detailed breakdown of where the Web traffic is originating. "What we've focused on is commercializing all inventory for a publisher, regardless of location," said Marston.
There have been some questions about the speed of AdEngage from some publishers. Networks need to be concerned with speed because if a page is getting hung up - advertisers don't get an impression, publishers won't get a click from users and users will leave - no one walks away happy. In all fairness, AdEngage tripled its business in a few short months and takes the possiblity of lag time seriously. They aim to serve ads in .30 seconds. To help with their current expansion, they have also hired a former MySpace employee who brings a lot of relevant experience in terms of making sure the infrastrcuture is ready for another such increase in demand.
Visit AdEngage and you'll definitely see an emphasis on entertainment-related sites. But don't let that mislead you. While the company is strong in entertainment (as their history is primarily in that area) they are very keen on exploring other verticals, like technology and will be placing greater emphasis in that niche in the future.