AdKnowledge to Bluestreak

Let me apologize ahead of time. This may not be my best work. Like a lot of people this week, I'm having trouble focusing. And to a certain extent it seems trivial to be discussing this stuff. But, in fact, it isn't trivial. It just seems like it compared to issues of life and death. But this week is better than last week. Next week will be better than this one. As Samuel Beckett wrote: "I can't go on. I'll go on."

And so we go on: Due to issues surrounding various press releases that Engage needed to get out last week, Bluestreak was put in the rather awkward position of having to announce a major acquisition last Thursday, so some of you may have missed it. Last week rich media pioneer Bluestreak announced that they had acquired third party ad server AdKnowledge from Engage.

For some of you who think of Bluestreak as a rich media vendor and the inventor of the Expandable Banner, this acquisition might seem strange. But in fact, Bluestreak has been working over the last year towards not only redefining themselves but rethinking the whole problem of ad serving from the ground up. The result has been a spate of new products including their Ion Server product and their BlueEyes optimization package. Bluestreak now thinks of themselves as a third party ad server that can serve it all: rich media, gifs, video, PointRoll, Enliven...anything, and do it better than anyone else.



The question was: how do you roll out a solution that could revolutionize the way ads are served? Do you do it organically, or through acquisition? The obvious answer: buy an established customer base and migrate them to the new product. As a result of the Bluestreak acquisition, AdKnowledge customers will have 30 days to migrate over to the Ion Server.

And what can current customers expect? According to Annette Tonti, CEO of Bluestreak, one thing they can expect is the same level of customer service and strong analytics that AdKnowledge was known for. Bluestreak is also looking carefully at the AdKnowledge technology to see what features should be ported over the Ion product. But, nevertheless, Bluestreak will need to provide more than customer service if they are going to persuade customers to move over to the Bluestreak system. Because even though Bluestreak purchased the AdKnowledge contacts, they did not purchase the AdKnowledge contracts. Bluestreak needs to provide a good reason for customers to stay loyal. And they’re confident they have it.

Reasons like zero server-side discrepancies. You heard me right. According to tests that have been done with major publishers over millions of impressions, they have been able to bring server-side discrepancies down from an average of 15% industry-wide to zero.

Part of this is due to the way the Ion Server works. First it records data every millisecond rather than every second the way most servers are set up to do. According to Bluestreak, servers that record every second to a log file are missing valuable data. Imagine that five different ads get served in one second and that each one gets clicked on. If you record only once a second, all five clicks will be attributed to the last ad served in the log files, which means that everything we know about click-through data is wrong. By recording every millisecond, the data that Bluestreak collects is much more accurate.

Bluestreak also gets rid of the whole idea of server logs for collecting and analyzing data. Instead, it constantly monitors the system, updating every five minutes. All of this has not only helped them become more accurate in their numbers, it also means that they can optimize the campaign in real-time. And by using their BlueEyes optimization software, the optimization takes place automatically.

Here is the way Bluestreak describes it: let's say you are using log files to optimize your campaign. You run your campaign and the next day you analyze the log files. The log files tell you that the red banner outperformed the blue banner, so you drop the blue banner from your next campaign. According to Bluestreak, you have just lowered the performance of the entire campaign. Why?

Because what you did not realize was that while the red banner performed better overall, the blue banner performed better between the hours of 4 and 5. Using the Bluestreak Ion Server in conjunction with the BlueEyes optimization system, the server will automatically optimize you campaign so that the blue banner appears during the times that it is most effective and red banner when it is more effective automatically and in real time, not the next day when it is too late. Just by turning a switch, Bluestreak has been able to increase a campaign's effectiveness by two and three hundred percent. So far Bluestreak has been able to test their system over hundreds of campaigns with clients like AT&T.

There is much more to the story than I can tell you here. Do yourself a favor: call them up and get a demo. I think you will come away impressed.

-- Bill McCloskey is Founder and CEO of Emerging Interest, an organization dedicated to educating the Internet advertising and marketing industry about rich media and other emerging technologies.

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