Undertone Solidifies 'Publisher Network,' Signs Exclusives With Big Titles

Eric-FranchiContinuing to position itself as more than an ad network, Undertone just signed exclusive agreements with 12 publishers, including American Media, AccuWeather, Bonnier Corporation, and Britannica.

But it wasn’t easy, admits Undertone co-founder Eric Franchi.

“It’s a crowded ecosystem, so you have to be able to demonstrate that you can add value to a publisher’s business,” he said. “The promise of access to blue-chip advertisers simply isn’t enough anymore.” 

To seal the deals, Franchi said the company had to make strategic decisions to move out of the traditional network space.

Today, “we have a publisher network, but that’s just one part of our business,” he said. “We’re focused on developing deeper relationships with publishers, and at the heart of this is the creation of incremental revenue streams.”

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According to Franchi, that’s why Undertone has chosen -- for the first time -- to license its high-impact ad units, PageGrabber and PageSkin.

Partner publishers can now sell the units directly through their own sales channels, or let Undertone do it for them. 

New publishing partners also include Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel and International Business Times.

Together, the 12 publishers own and operate over 100 Web sites including Entrepreneur.com, Shape.com, Merriam-Webster.com and MensFitness.com. Combined, the sites reach 25.3 million unique visitors each month, according to Undertone, citing comScore data.

Said Franchi: “These agreements prove that there’s a real willingness for publishers to work with third-party providers -- there just has to be a proper value exchange.”

Putting an emphasis on quality, Franchi said Undertone only sources impressions directly from publishers -- never from exchanges, networks or trading desks. 

“That’s what enables us to offer our unique money-back quality guarantee,” Franchi added. “Through this guarantee, if an advertiser demonstrates that ads from an Undertone insertion order appear on sites that are not part of our Preferred Publisher Portfolio, a refund will be issued.”

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