Undertone Networks Launches DirectConnect

Premium ad network Undertone Networks on Wednesday debuted a new product that integrates directly with agency trading desks.

Built on top of its existing technology platform, DirectConnect automates access to Undertone's inventory so agencies can target audiences using familiar data.

Four agency trading desks have already signed on to use DirectConnect, including WPP's MEC.

Trading desks often rely on demand-side platforms to acquire inventory through ad exchanges, but supply is limited to remnant placements.

As a result, according to a recent AdSafe Media report, 17% of exchange inventory is considered high risk to advertisers.

DirectConnect seeks to lower that risk by letting advertisers tap into a supply of reliable placements.

"DirectConnect offers advertisers ... the ability to target precise audiences on their platform of choice," said Alan Schanzer, chief strategy officer at Undertone. "Our goal is to offer all our high-quality products to advertisers through buy-side platforms."

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DirectConnect supports rich media and in-banner video, while future versions are expected to allow for real-time bidding, pre-roll video, expandable and other ad units.

A division of Intercept Interactive, Undertone has aspirations as a full-service interactive media and marketing firm. Pursuing growth at home and abroad, Undertone received an investment in the range of $40 million to $100 million from JMI Equity in early 2008.

In May, Undertone debuted Qualified Insights, which provides a method to assist companies in analyzing how advertising campaigns influence consumer behavior, interaction, and long-term commitments to brands. Presently, Undertone has roughly 350 sites in its ad network.

In 2007, it launched a search engine marketing and search engine optimization practice, dubbed Undertone Search. The pay-per-click SEM offering encompasses ads on all major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com, and is a fully managed service with Undertone reps managing planning, keyword identification, bid management, tracking and reporting.

2 comments about "Undertone Networks Launches DirectConnect ".
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  1. Christine Parker, October 7, 2010 at 3:06 p.m.

    I've read this article three times and I still don't know what this product is, or what it does. Can someone please explain?

  2. Kelly Wenzel from Centro, October 14, 2010 at 11:59 a.m.

    Almost all of the holding companies have now formed centralized media trading desks. (WPP = M!G, IPG = Cadreon, Publicis = Vivaki, Havas = Adnetik). These trading desks rely heavily on technology not only to drive efficiency, but also to support the shift toward buying "audiences" rather than "inventory". The market refers to this technology as buy-side" or "demand-side" platforms (DSPs). Think of companies like Invite Media - now part of Google, Turn, x+1, etc.

    Sounds good, so far. Here's the challenge. All of the trading desks are using technology to tap into the same limited supply sources: exchanges like RightMedia, AdECN, Google's DoubleClick AdExchange. At the risk of stating the obvious, the exchanges are filled with a lot of remnant inventory and very little that would classify as premium. Rich media and video inventory are even more scarce, if not nonexistent. Even if the trading desks are using this technology to tap into inventory managed by the publisher yield managers, firms like AdMeld, Rubicon and Pubmatic, also known as “supply-side platforms” (SSPs) – the reality is that there are a lot of advertisers then competing for the same set of impressions.

    This product, Undertone DirectConnect, was developed to address this market challenge. At its simplest, DirectConnect is technology that allows the trading desks to tap into a new supply source: Undertone’s premium inventory. This product provides a direct connection (hence the name) to new, high-quality inventory – of which there is an acknowledged short supply in the exchanges. The trading desks can buy how they want to (electronically); now they can just buy higher quality.

    Christine, I hope this helps!

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