Our Ad Man in Shanghai

Thanks to news search services, someone reading the London Telegraph online is as likely to be from New London, Conn., as from the home of Big Ben. Access to worldwide news via search can make us smarter while making newspaper publishers poorer. The Telegraph wants to charge a premium for its online inventory, but an ad for a UK business won't do anything for a reader in New London.

As a result, online newspapers often run with either inappropriate advertising or remnants they sell for a pittance. Well, they don't need Goldfinger when cash is tight; her majesty's secret service can get those ads paid from Mayfair to Mystic.

Like James Bond, AdGent 007 combines technology with derring-do to help newspapers profit from their exploding international inventory. The company has agents on the ground in the United States, Australia and Europe, plus partners in Asia, to sell papers' premium audiences to brand advertisers in local markets. Its technology, sitting between Web servers and ad networks, identifies the location of each visitor. The publisher sets up all Web traffic to run through AdGent's servers for any market in which the service handles ad sales. If a visitor is outside the publisher's market, AdGent 007 serves a location-relevant ad whenever possible. (If the service has no such ad, the impression can be switched to a remnant network. AdGent 007 has proprietary technology running in the background that can identify the best-performing remnant ad to serve for any impression.) Because it sees all the publisher's traffic, it always has a precise count of available impressions.

In July, the company became exclusive ad sales rep for all of's ad inventory in the United States and other areas outside the United Kingdom. The important thing, says CEO Cameron Yuill, is that while an advertiser in the United States might consider an impression served to someone in France as wasted, those foreign readers are still valuable. "Wherever the eyeballs are coming from - China, Brazil, Russia, the United States - it's a premium audience." So, AdGent 007 sells it as such, negotiating the best rates it can with local media agencies.

Those rates do vary wildly by market, but they're nothing to sneeze at. "cpms for run-of-news in the UK might be $25 or $30; on some very targeted campaigns with limited inventory, such as finance, they range from $100 to $150. On the other hand, in China, you're lucky to get a buck," he says.
But hey, a buck is a buck, and newspaper publishers are grasping for every last dollar they can get. Yuill says his not-so-secret ad-serving agent can shore up declining revenues not only for news media, but for magazines and video Web sites as well. Q could not have done it better himself.

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