Undertone Promises Brand Lift Or Money Back

Eric-FranchiOn a mission to distinguish itself from rival ad networks, Undertone is making what it considers to be a bold promise: a money-back guarantees based on “brand lift.”

Effective immediately, Online Media Daily has learned that Undertone is offering advertisers and agencies up to $50,000 back -- on minimum buys of $200,000 that exceed 40 million impressions  -- if a certain brand lift is not achieved.

“This is an industry first,” said Eric Franchi, co-founder of Undertone -- before noting that certain publishers, including Forbes, already offer such guarantees. (Forbes representatives did not return requests for comment by press time.)    

The “Standout Brand Guarantee,” so-called, is being powered by a partnership with Vizu, which is providing real-time data based on consumer feedback.

According to company heads, including Franchi, the metrics used as the basis for such guarantees are subject to negotiation, while each deal is based on predetermined results.

The guarantee is part of an effort by Undertone to differentiate itself as a “brand solution” in a sea of ad networks -- whose bread and butter has been direct-response advertisers,  according to Joanna O'Connell, a senior analyst at Forrester. 

“Undertone is overtly focused on the brand story -- on creating brand experiences for marketers that deliver on brand objectives,” said O’Connell. “So it’s no surprise that they would make a bold promise like this.”

This, however, is not the first time Undertone has offered money-back guarantees as a way to drum up business. Since 2008, the company has offered what it calls a “quality guarantee,” which ensures that ads appear only on high-quality pages.

Per the “quality guarantee,” if advertisers or agencies can demonstrate that ads from an Undertone insertion order appear on Web sites, mobile sites or mobile apps that are not part of the network’s “Preferred Publisher Portfolio,” it promises a refund of up to $50,000.

Either way, O’Connell commends Undertone’s effort. “I am all for encouraging marketers to more effectively measure their brand campaigns,” she said, “and this is a smart backdoor approach to getting such measurement in place and proving the value of high-quality ad experiences in a digital environment.” 

Along with its network business, Undertone is pursuing deeper relationships with individual publishers. Last month, it announced exclusive agreements with 12 publishers, including American Media, AccuWeather, Bonnier and Britannica. 

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.

Also, for the first time, it recently began licensing high-impact ad units, like PageGrabber and PageSkin. Partner publishers can now sell the units directly through their own sales channels, or let Undertone do it for them. The company also established a “Digital Innovation Studio,” to help brands and agencies serve more engaging ads. 

According to Franchi, Undertone is now in the business of “creating experiences.”

2 comments about "Undertone Promises Brand Lift Or Money Back".
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  1. Corey Kronengold from NYIAX, March 8, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.

    Bravo, Undertone. Glad to be working with you and Vizu on driving brand metrics and measurement.

  2. David Lozovsky from Walk Light Media, March 9, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.

    Great marketing but seems like a bit of an empty gesture on its face.

    Brand Lift I would assume speaks to brand marketers usually managed by major agencies. Agencies who generate their revenue as a percentage of media spend, should they exercise this money back guarantee, they would essentially reduce their revenue, not a common business practice I have encountered.

    Lastly, 50k on 200k spent is 25%, when traditionally the network model operates at 35-40% margins, so still a net gain either way. Not much of a money back guarantee IMHO.

    You guys have developed some great creative and have some really interesting products, but a money back guarantee that you know no one will exercise, is like inviting that friend to a party when you know he's going to be out of town, an empty gesture.

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