5 Questions for BlueLithium's Gurbaksh Chahal

  • by February 21, 2006
BlueLithium, Inc., a performance-based ad network, was founded in 2004 by Gurbaksh Chahal, who is the company's CEO. Currently, BlueLithium boasts of delivering more than 6 billion ad impressions to more than 60 percent of Internet users each month. Prior to starting BlueLithium, Chahal founded ClickAgents in 1998 in true startup fashion -- from his bedroom. Within two years, he took ClickAgents into a merger with its publicly traded competitor, ValueClick, Inc., in a deal valued at up to $70 million. Tobi Elkin recently caught up with the busy entrepreneur.

What are your business goals for BlueLithium in 2006?

>I have only one business goal for 2006: to deliver the greatest value to our advertisers and thus become the No. 1 ad network. That's it. Everything else we do -- technology innovation, hiring the best people in the business, building a reliable, high-quality publisher network, making it easy for agencies to work with us -- in support of this one goal.

How do you see the online publisher/ad network space evolving in the next few years?

> The early days of the Internet represent a sort of Big Bang. From just a few sites grouped tightly around a small number of ideas, we suddenly had massive quantities of content exploding in all directions at an ever-accelerating rate of speed. And we had the Internet users following them. Today, some of the most valuable real estate for advertisers is out on the fringes, on social networking sites, video, multimedia and photo community sites, and other places that didn't exist two years ago. As user-generated content sites become more predictable, those will become valuable to advertisers as well. Ad networks are the best way for advertisers to get at the juiciest, fastest-growing parts of the Internet, supplying inventive technologies that improve efficiency and doing it cost-effectively, with scale in a way that's easy to buy.

What is the difference between what BlueLithium does for clients and what your competitors do? How would you characterize the company's competitive edge?

>BlueLithium is innovating legacy ways of doing business to help our advertisers achieve superior results. For example, we create a unique audience-centric network for an advertiser that automatically optimizes each hour, adding new sites and purging old sites based on live campaign data. If the advertiser's audience leaves a site, so does their advertising. We're replacing traditional campaign prediction with performance-driven results. Our AdPath suite of behavioral targeting products enables advertisers to identify user behavior and deliver messages on the advertiser's own site, third-party sites, and search engines. It's one of the only behavioral solutions today that includes both segment targeting and consumer re-targeting.

What are the most challenging and pressing issues in your business right now?

>Without question it's how to keep innovating so we don't have a repeat of the build-up and flameout that occurred in this space in the early 2000s. For the past two years, more and more agencies have been turning to ad networks to carry their buys. Largely, this has been because of the reach and ease-of-use that networks have always provided. But with networks such as BlueLithium and introducing new targeting and optimization technologies, and alternative pricing models coming into play, networks have grown beyond their historic role to become the core of many media plans. It's now our responsibility to keep increasing the level of value we deliver in areas such as predictive semantic analysis.

If you weren't heading this business, what would you most like to accomplish?

> Since 1998, when I founded ClickAgents and ultimately sold to ValueClick, online advertising has been my life. That's why I started BlueLithium two years ago. Being an online ad network puts us at the heart of the best business on the Web. It also gives us the mandate to innovate. That's something I'm extremely passionate about. I suppose if I wasn't running BlueLithium, I'd be running another business that invents new ways of helping agencies and advertisers get the maximum benefit from online media.

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