In one of the most enterprising efforts to leverage the vast pools of unsold online advertising inventory, a serial online ad entrepreneur Tuesday unveiled a new model that will give marketers free online advertising in exchange for research on the results of how well the ads performed. The new model, which was announced during Ad:Tech San Francisco by Neil Monnens, establishes yet another intermediary platform in the increasingly cluttered field of advertising technology, but also represents a unique solution for publishers looking for authenticated case studies proving the performance of ads on their Web sites to sell to other marketers.
Monnens, who pioneered the online ad representative model in 1996 by founding WebRep, a model that early online ad industry executives initially looked askance at, said he’s finding similar initial reactions from some publishers that he has begun pitching his new model to -- but he says advertisers and agencies are very enthusiastic, and that he currently has more than enough commitments to roll out the service, dubbed Measurable Media Labs.
The problem, he says, is convincing publishers to part with some of their unsold inventory to fund the case studies. While the model effectively is an “in-kind” exchange in which publishers are paying for research in exchange for unsold inventory, Monnens says their emotional reaction is that they would be giving it away for free.
Monnens says that reluctance has come mainly from top-tier, “big brand” publishers who may be reluctant to signal that their inventory is “distressed,” but he notes that many of those readily participate in online exchanges, ad networks and other third-party platforms that effectively yield pennies on their premium ad dollars, largely because much of their inventory is unsold.
He says he expects to have more success convincing mid-tail and smaller publishers who are eager to generate case studies that demonstrate their efficacy to big brand advertisers.
Monnens says the model is simple, and that he initially will work only with big brands spending at least $500,000 online and with media plans that cover at least 10 publishers at any given time.
His offer is simple: One of the publishers in the marketer’s mix contributes inventory valued at $50,000 to the advertiser’s schedule, and the publisher gains access to the back-end metrics of the advertiser’s results, including click-throughs, conversions and costs, creating an index for how well the participating publisher performed relative to the other publishers in the schedule.
Measurable Media Labs’ fee for managing the effort and producing the case studies is 20% of the buy, or a $10,000 fee paid by the brand.
Monnens, who serves as founder and CEO of Measurable Media Labs, says the goal is to create some “proof of performance” for publishers who are not necessarily as successful at getting the attention of major brands and agencies as the top-tier are. He says some advertisers have already asked him if they could place their entire online campaign budgets via the platform, but says Measurable Media Labs will limit any given brand to no more than two case study programs during any given period.