Commentary

Adify: Laughing All The Way To The Bank

Some of my clients include the biggest, baddest vertical ad networks in their space (technology: NetShelter Technology Media; auto: Jumpstart Automotive Media; travel: Travel Ad Network; and kids and moms: GoFish Network). I say this not only as a shameless plug but to establish my street cred on vertical ad networks (VAN). Now, if you happen to enter VAN in a search engine, you are liable to see a paid ad for something called Ad Network Blog with copy that claims "The top resource for building your own vertical ad network."

In a paid click you are at the front door to the KnowVertical Blog featuring the grammatically-challenged claim: All You Need To Know Vertical Ad Networks! There are pages and pages of reports and commentary on some aspects of vertical ad networks (including assumed data about my clients, most of it dead wrong). There are thinly veiled shots at GLAM, stats are often not sourced and there no bylines of any kind, so it is hard to deduce the authors' biases. Hmmm? Who are these guys? So in a click you are at About KnowVertical that claims:

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KnowVertical is a Vertical Advertising Network consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, committed to delivering innovation and solutions ... using our industry knowledge, service-offering expertise and technology capabilities, we identify new business and technology trends and develop solutions ... we have extensive experience and research into the vertical online advertising space ... we work with the world's leading publishers and advertisers of all sizes.

There is only one teeny, tiny problem with all of this; there IS no KnowVertical which "is a Vertical Advertising Network consulting, technology services and outsourcing company." There is no street address, no about us management bios, nothing except an obscure "e mail me" button that sends a note to jim@adify.com. It turns out that "jim at adify" is in fact Jim Larrison who is Adify's Executive Vice President Platform Sales & Services. Adify Corp. is the vertical ad network management company recently bought by of Cox TMI, Inc., part of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.

If you write to jim at adify and ask him why the lack of transparency about the link between this dummy site and Adify, he doesn't respond. Even if you send follow up e-mails suggesting you might write a column about how moronic it is to be deceptive. Nothing. Nada.

One can only speculate that this dummy blog without ANY identifying links to Adify except the e-mail, is supposed to generate new business leads from folks thinking they'll slap up a new vertical ad network about cats or pancakes or leaf blowing, but how does the lead feel when he learns that there is no KnowVertical company--just a well camouflaged backdoor into Adify? Does this make you want to trust these folks as a business partners? Perhaps it is a good thing that all the top execs at Adify already had their payday when Cox came calling. Editor's note: George Simpson's July 3rd column took took to task Adify, a company that operates in the same space in which Simpson represents others companies. The editors do not believe that Simpson's column was written to give his clients any advantage against or over Adify.

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