12 October 2010

AdKeeper Wants You to Store Ads, Not Block Them

PC Mag

Some users use ad-blocking tools to eliminate ads from their Web browser. But a new startup, AdKeeper hopes that you'll bookmark them.

AdKeeper, a new online advertising service run by the former chief executive of About.com, Scott Kurnit, hopes that by storing the ads into a small online repository, users will go back to the ads, interact with them, and ultimately, buy.

The service is in beta and will formally launch in 2011. But AdKeeper said its group of "charter advertisers" included Allstate, Ally Bank, AT&T, Best Buy, CBS, Ford, Gap, General Mills, InterContinental Hotels Group, JetBlue, Kmart, Kraft Foods, Macy's, McDonald's, Pepsi, Sara Lee, Sears, Showtime, The Advertising Council, Unilever and Warner Bros.

The service supplies interactive ads, as others do. The difference is that ads designed by the AdKeeper service contain a small "K" on them. When the a user clicks on the "K" (for "keep") the ad goes into a Keeper application for the user to interact with later. The Keeper is actually the AdKeeper Web page, where users don't even have to log in; the service "tracks you with very anonymous cookies," a company spokeswoman said.

"Internet advertising was modeled after TV advertising – where the consumer views content, then interruptive ads, then more content. But the web is a totally dynamic environment that places consumers in the driver's seat," said Scott Kurnit, the company's founder and the former founder of About.com. "It's time for the advertising experience to catch up with the rest of the web experience. AdKeeper affords consumers the opportunity to engage with the advertising that interests them most, at the time and place of their choosing. It's 'on my time advertising.' It's invitational, not interruptive. It's for brands that respect their consumers. And it's for consumers who want to take charge."

AdKeeper representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Online advertising generates $300 billion of economic activity in the U.S., according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which tracks online advertising. But site operators are making less on them. Although cost-per-million estimates are difficult to acquire, online ad network Adify released data last year that found that ad impressions on automotive Web sites fell from $17.26 to $12.47.

While Web site operators make money from ads, installing FlashBlock or plug-ins like AdBlock have become more of a common practice for users; note the comments in our list of recommended add-ons for Firefox; Mozilla itself also recommends the plug-ins.

An IAB representative said that the group does not have any estimates for the amount of revenue lost via ad-blocking software.

To compensate, advertisers have become increasingly focused on serving targeted ads to specific users, attempting to determine their online habits through a variety of methods, including identifying their location and browsing habits. AdKeeper represents another avenue to boost CPMs.

The IAB will release its semi-annual report on the online advertising industry on Tuesday, in conjunction with PWC. Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. hit $5.9 billion for the first quarter of 2010, a 7.5 percent increase over the same period in 2009, the IAB reported in May.

In March, Conde Nast-owned Ars Technica served users with a blank page each time the site detected ad-blocking software was in effect, canceling the experiment after 12 hours.

"Technologically, it was a success in that it worked. Ad blockers, and only ad blockers, couldn't see our content," editor-in-chief Ken Fisher wrote in a response. "We tested just one way of doing this, but have devised a way to keep it rotating were we to want to permanently implement it. But we don't. Socially, the experiment was a mixed bag. A bunch of people whitelisted Ars, and even a few subscribed. And while others showed up to support our actions, there was a healthy mob of people criticizing us for daring to take any kind of action against those who would deny us revenue even though they knew they were doing so. Others rightly criticized the lack of a warning or notification as to what was going on."

AdKeeper's board includes Jeremy Allaire, founder and chief executive of Brightcove; John Battelle, founder and chief executive of Federated Media; Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive of the The Advertising Council; Janet Robinson, president and chief executive of The New York Times; and George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group.

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