Scott Kurnit dreamed up the business model for AdKeeper 15 years ago -- but little did he know that About.com, which he also founded, would become the "training wheels" for a service that could turn ads across the Internet, mobile, television and outdoors into a social experience rather than an annoyance.
Clicking on the "K" logo in the ad saves it in a "keeper" that consumers can view until they delete the ad or it expires. Advertisers also can set a frequency cap on the amount of times a person can view the ad, because down the road they will pay for each impression and view. "Any ad that has more than 10 seconds of engagement needs to offer me the option to hold it for later," Kurnit says.
The service officially launches mid-January 2011. After a free six-month trial, advertisers will pay AdKeeper CPMs and CPCs for impressions and actions -- such as clicks -- for the ads in the keeper. When the ads are kept -- copied into the consumer's keeper -- the advertiser gets charged.
While consumers can keep ads seen on a variety of publisher sites across the Internet, the AdKeeper Web site offers social tools such as rating system, sharing module, and other features.
MaryAnn Bekkedahl, AdKeeper chief revenue officer, estimates 15 billion impressions through the "k" button in the first 30 days of service. The service launches with 21 partners such as AT&T, Best Buy, CBS, McDonald's, Gap, Pepsi and Warner Bros. All have committed to an undisclosed number of impressions. Another 50 companies have agreed to jump in under different deal terms.
Kurnit says feedback during internal focus groups revealed that consumers were concerned they would keep too many advertisements, making it cumbersome to wade through the content. So, the Keeper on the site lets people organize the ads by category and advertiser. The older ads drop off and consumers can also make their own lists.
Although the technology supports video, display and other types of Internet advertising, Kurnit says the "K" button for mobile and TV ads comes next. The tool will work with QR codes in retail stores and billboards by capturing a picture with an iPhone or smartphone running Android -- all formatted through AdKeeper's Keeper.
AdKeeper collects email addresses and passwords that consumers create to join the service, as well as publisher attribution. The "anonymous and aggregated data" becomes available to advertisers in real-time through a dashboard. "This is a consumer first business; advertisers come second," Kurnit says. "And advertisers understand consumers come first."
The company's Advisory Board includes R/GA's Bob Greenberg, The New York Times' Janet Robinson, Federated Media's John Battelle, and Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire, among others.