When viewing the monthly impressions listed in the Ad Server Watch, one might wonder how a company serving 2 billion impressions a month can compete in an industry where the top ad server allegedly serves 200 billion. Well, bigger doesnÕt necessarily mean better, and this monthÕs ad server is proof that David can compete with the Goliaths in the realm of ad serving.
Bluestreak started out as a rich media company back in 1998, built its own ad server by early 2001, and ramped up its client base with the acquisition of the AdKnowledge ad server from Engage in September of that year. By building Ion from the ground up, it made an ad server that fit its needs, one that enables users to easily support rich media and Flash. Unlike other ad servers, Ion supports Flash as its own creative (instead having it fall under the category of rich media), and according to Eric Picard, co-founder and director of product management at Bluestreak, the number of clients who began using Flash drastically increased in a year. "Over the course of one year, the percentage of clients using Flash went from 1% to 20%," he says. "Ion allows you to convert Flash as easily as you would a GIF file, making advertisers more receptive to using it." Current Ion clients include AOL, Carat International, AT&T, and HarrisDirect.
Ion also touts its low server-side discrepancy rate (the difference in the amount of impressions served according to an advertiserÕs third-party ad server and the publisher running the campaign). Picard says IonÕs is less than 10%. The industry average is closer to 20%.
Reports are updated every 20 minutes, allowing advertisers to check on impressions served, determine whether creatives were uploaded correctly, and view reports. Additionally, Ion has something called advanced reporting, which essentially is one report that shows all impressions, clicks, rich media, and beyond-the-banner data in one request. Another tool, the cross-campaign reporting system, allows advertisers to see whatÕs happening across all campaigns at once, giving an in-depth look at the ROI of their efforts.
Harrisdirect, one of the companies using the Bluestreak ad server, has been pleased with the product. ÒSeptemberÕs release of Ion 3.0 significantly improved our online advertising management and reporting capabilities,Ó said Eric Frenchman, director of online marketing for Harrisdirect. ÒUsing Ion, our online campaigns are delivered in a timely fashion, with ease and efficiency.Ó
In early 2003, Bluestreak will debut Ion 4.0, with a focus on reach and frequency conversion reports. With Ion 4.0, Picard envisions a system that takes "a more granular look at R&F data, with information shown at the campaign level, publisher level, and creative level."
When it comes to the other ad servers out there, Picard says that everyone has the basic capabilities down pat, but executing them is the key to the features.