Friday, September 18, 2009

Study: Half Of Ad Impressions, 95 Percent Of Clicks Fraudulent

The genie is out of the bottle...yesterday we released the first in a series of white papers reporting the data we have seen over the summer as we have wrapped numerous media buys with AdXpose.

We appear to have hit a nerve. As I write this, requests for the report are hitting my inbox at a rate of nearly 1 per minute. It doesn't hurt that Mediapost star reporter Laurie Sullivan nailed the findings in a fantastic article in today's Online Media Daily:

Click fraud continues to plague online advertising, but many just want to sweep it under the rug. Radar Research managing partner Marissa Gluck calls it "the dirty little secret of the online ad industry that no one wants to talk about." Perhaps that's because data released Thursday in a study conducted in July reveals that more than half of ad impressions and 95% of clicks in online
ad buys were fraudulent.

Stay tuned for more findings. Headed to New York for advertising week next week, we'll see how the industry reception feels...

Kirby Winfield
Chief Revenue Officer
Mpire (Makers of AdXpose)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

AdXpose Early Results

Its been almost a month since we announced our private beta of AdXpose. We have run tests with many partners, over a billion impressions, and over 100 ad networks and exchanges. We have found some very interesting data as we’ve been running our tests. There are several key behaviors have been consistently observed:

• Between 20% to 40% of ad impressions are not “InView”, meaning although the ad network recorded an impression, the creative was below the fold and was never viewed by the site visitor
• Between 30% to 65% of ad impressions are “passed down” to the respective ad network’s distribution partners versus direct distribution to the network’s direct publishers.
• 160x600, 300x600, and 300x250 creative sizes are yielding the highest creative engagement, in spite of lower-than-average above-the-fold placement.
• 728x90 placements with a higher than average above-the-fold placement rate have lower creative engagement that 300x250 and the 160/300x600 creative sizes

Much of this data has already been helpful to our partners by both optimizing creatives, re-allocating spend to approved domains, as well as changing the campaign(s ) to higher performer channels and publishers. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in our private beta.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Are Your Web Ads Powerful or Pitiful? Forbes Explores AdXpose

Today on, writers Evan Hessel and Taylor Buley zero-in on AdXpose, the campaign verification service from Mpire, that gives online advertisers insight that helps them eliminate wasted ad budget.

The article, titled, "How to Know Your Web Ad Is Working," also delves into issues involving third-party ad selling, as well as how AdXpose tracks ads across the Internet and measures consumer engagement through "heat mapping" (see image below).

On Monday, Mpire was also included in another piece that examined the automation of ad tracking.

Click here for an AdXpose demo.

- Dean

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Study: Campaign ROI Continues Eluding Online Advertisers

Coremetrics of San Mateo, Calif., just completed a study that shows brand marketers continue to struggle to understand their return on investment (ROI) with online ad campaigns.

The study underscores the need for ad technology companies to provide advertisers with clear, actionable data from which they (or their agencies) can optimize their campaigns, especially when it comes to ad placement at the domain, page and container levels. This is exactly the problem and industry issue AdXpose is aiming to solve. Find out more here and on YouTube.

Some highlights of the study, which polled 100 marketers from large to mid-sized online retail companies:

  • 52% of respondents said they were either not sure, somewhat skeptical or completely unconvinced display advertising and/or Web 2.0 initiatives justify their cost
  • 49% said it was somewhat difficult to impossible to justify display advertising and Web 2.0 budgets to their management team
  • Only 7% believe doing so is ‘very easy’ and 24% very or ‘somewhat easy’
When it comes to making sense of the data, 68% said it was somewhat to very difficult to make sense of multiple sources of data.

- Dean

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Forbes: New automated tech firms reshaping digital media posted an insightful piece today on an emerging set of ad technology companies that are helping brands conduct their media buying more efficiently and effectively as people increasingly spend their lives online.

Mpire Corporation, maker of both WidgetBucks and AdXpose, was among the private companies cited in this lengthy article. The other technology companies in the piece include Mpire partners OpenX, Rubicon Project and Pubmatic, as well as Google and Yahoo! [full article here]

Matt Hulett, Mpire's CEO, (pictured) was quoted in the article -- "We've seen half a billion dollars of venture capital poured into building optimization and planning companies." -- and Mpire's new service -- AdXpose -- was highlighted as well:

This week, Hulett's firm unveiled an application to help advertisers track on which Web sites networks place ads, where on the actual screen the ad appears and if Web surfers pause their cursor over the ad. The tool is intended to help marketers better figure out how much of their ad spending is essentially worthless.

For more information and background on AdXpose, check out last week's press coverage, press release, and demo on YouTube.

- Dean

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AdXpose: 4 in 10 Online Ads Never Appear

At AdSpace today in San Francisco, Mpire CEO Matt Hulett participated in a panel called "10 Proven Methods to Increase Your eCPM and Generate More Revenue." Along with talking about the benefits of WidgetBucks' YieldSense as a way to increase eCPM for publishers, Matt pointed out that in early tests of AdXpose -- its new campaign verification and optimization service -- show that up to 40 percent of ads never see the light of day. This really represents wasted ad budget for online advertisers. "Never seen" can mean that the ad was recorded as an impression, but the creative was below the fold and was never viewed by the site visitor.
Further, of the 300 million impressions run through early AdXpose tests, between 30% and 65% are "passed down" to the third parties vs. direct buys. This is a bit lower than the IAB/Bain Digital Pricing Research indicated in 2008 that indicated up to 80% of ads are passed down to third parties such as exchanges and ad networks.

As for sizes that appear to be the most popular as it relates to being viewed by visitors seem to be 160x600, 300x600, and 300x250 creative sizes. These yield the highest creative engagement, typically because these sizes seem to have better-than-average above-the-fold placement. Interestingly, 728x90 size placements with a higher than average above-the-fold placement rate have lower creative engagement that 300x250 and the 160/300x600 creative size.

We'll continue to report more findings as AdXpose campaign testing continues.

To participate in our private beta program, please contact AdXpose at beta [at] adxpose [dot] com.

- Dean Jutilla
Marketing Director
Mpire Corporation

Brand Advertisers Begin Campaign Verification Testing Through AdXpose

Let’s face it -- online ad industry remains incredibly complex and inefficient. Here are some facts:

  • Up to 80 percent of all interactive ads are sold and resold through third parties
  • Billions are wasted in untargeted ads each year
  • Nearly 1 in 3 ads is never even seen because they are below the fold
  • 82 percent of CMOs are less than satisfied with their ROI analysis
This all adds up to brand marketers being left with little campaign transparency and return on investment when it comes to their interactive ad campaigns. And we wonder why ad dollars aren’t coming online at a faster clip.

A solution for advertisers and their agencies was released today, called AdXpose. Launched in invite-only beta mode today, this patent-pending optimization technology is one of the first online ad technologies to give brand marketers and interactive agencies campaign verification anywhere their ads run across the Internet. AdXpose is a new sub-brand within Mpire Corporation, a market-leading ad optimization technology company, which also makes WidgetBucks.

Advertisers are encouraged to contact AdXpose directly to test campaigns and get insight into how they can better maximize their ad spend.

AdXpose is launching with significant publisher and advertisers support, including Jones Soda, Keen Shoes,, OpenX, Wetpaint and more. In fact, OpenX CEO Tim Cadogan said this:

“AdXpose has the potential to significantly improve both the economic value and consumer relevance of advertising by increasing campaign accuracy and transparency. Since OpenX is focused on enabling all classes of businesses online to make more money from advertising through a fully open and extensible technology and monetization platform, we're excited to work with Mpire in bringing AdXpose to market.”

Whether ads appear through exchanges, ad networks, or direct buys, AdXpose provides real-time tracking of campaign placement, reach and consumer engagement:
  • More effective placement means less wasted budget: AdXpose makes every impression count by alerting advertisers and agencies to effective or ineffective placements, those appearing above/below the fold, percentage of ads actually seen and notices of non-compliance situations.
  • Ensures campaign targeting hits the right site and audience: Real-time domain-level transparency helps agencies make performance-based, on-the-fly campaign adjustments, as well as to determine if a campaign is delivering the right message to the right web site.
  • Measures, maximizes ad creative effectiveness: AdXpose provides actionable insights through heatmapping technology and capturing of consumer behavior around and within ads, including when a mouse curser enters, exits and hovers, as well as total time in the creative. Advertisers can then gauge campaign success from an engagement and performance perspective.
AdXpose can scale to any size campaign, monitors most ad formats, including display, text, video and Flash-based creative, tracks IAB-standard and non-standard sizes, and uses IAB and MRC compliant reporting metrics.

This may leave some asking, “What’s in it for publishers?” Well, AdXpose helps in a few ways. First, publishers and ad networks are now supplied with compliance information for advertisers around placement and media buying conformance. Most importantly, publishers benefit because they have powerful data to show advertisers around campaign effectiveness on their web sites and ad networks.

There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in display advertising over the last many years. With a renaissance in online advertising long overdue, now is the right time for a set of emerging companies to start providing deeper, more transparent insights to advertisers.

We are currently running an invite-only beta program with AdXpose; however, if you are an advertiser (or represent a brand marketer) wanting to test a campaign or two, contact us at beta [at] adxpose [dot] com or call 206-302-2155.

- Matt Hulett
CEO, Mpire Corporation
(makers of AdXpose and WidgetBucks)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time to Vote for Seattle 2.0's Finest

This may be considered a very "local thing" but every vote counts, no matter its location. The Seattle 2.0 Awards recognizes accomplishments and exceptional people of the best of over 300 Seattle area technology startups. Voting ends April 28.

Mpire is honored to be a finalist in four categories:

  • Best Startup CEO: Matt Hulett
  • Best Startup Technologist: Greg Harrison
  • Best Blog from/about Startups: Startup Whisperer by Matt Hulett
  • Best Venture Capitalist: Bill Bryant, WidgetBucks board member and Venture Partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which led Mpire's Series B funding in June 2008.
Those outside of the Seattle area may not realize the amount of innovation coming from the Puget Sound region from names like Picnik, Redfin, Wetpaint, iLike, and BuddyTV. Check out a full list here. We encourage to offer up your support and vote.

Here's a full list of categories -- Vote now!
  • Best Startup
  • Best Boot-strapped Startup
  • Best Startup CEO
  • Best Startup Technologist
  • Best Venture Capitalist
  • Best Angel Investor
  • Best Startup Product Designer
  • Best Service Provider to Startups
  • Best Blog from/about Startup
  • Best Social Event for Startups

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Beginner's Guide to Ad Optimization

WidgetBucks CEO Matt Hulett is a featured contributor in Monday's edition of Adotas, one of the interactive advertising's most targeted publications. Matt delves into the world of ad optimization, where he feels there is a lot of innovation happening today despite very little other good news coming from within the sector.

Matt discusses a group of optimization startups, including WidgetBucks, that are adding a tremendous layer of value between the supply and demand. These companies are still getting funding when other sectors have gone dry, and some have even been acquired recently.

The five areas of focus in what Matt calls the "ad optimization stack" include:

  • Container Optimization. Companies such as SnapAds, Tumri, Clearspring, Gigya and WidgetBucks
  • Targeting Optimization. Companies such as BlueKai, Exelate, Lookery and OthersOnline
  • Yield Optimization. Companies such as Pubmatic, Rubicon Project, YieldBuild, YieldX and WidgetBucks
  • Exchanges. Companies such as Right Media’s Publisher Media Exchange, Microsoft’s AdECN, DoubleClick
  • Auction-based marketplaces. Companies such as ContextWeb's ADSDAQ, AdBite, Turn, Google AdSense, and Yahoo! Publisher Network
Check out Matt's full Adotas post here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Three Reasons Why Amazon Should Buy Twitter

Matt Hulett
With Twitter currently experiencing explosive growth and visibility, WidgetBucks CEO Matt Hulett takes a look at why it would make some sense for Amazon to buy Twitter. Check out his blog on AlwaysOn's VC & Money section -- a good read. If you're having a hard time visualizing it, below is a mock up of what might look like if Amazon were to integrate Twitter into its listing pages.

Eric Engleman of Seattle's TechFlash also wrote about this today as well.

Speaking of Twitter, check out this like-gold add-on that makes your Google searches real-time with Twitter.

Do you use Twitter? If so, start following WidgetBucks here.

- Dean

Monday, February 2, 2009

Former aQuantive CFO Michael Vernon Joins WidgetBucks Board

Matt Hulett
CEO, WidgetBucks

I wanted to jump on the WidgetBucks' blog this morning and share with everyone that Michael Vernon has joined our Board of Directors.

For those of you who know about Michael, this is a real coup for us here at WidgetBucks. For those of you who don't, Michael was the former CFO at aQuantive (acquired by Microsoft in 2007 for $6B -- yes, with a B) so he knows online advertising technology, knows how to inject ‘big thinking’ into an emerging company like ours, and he's a fantastic complement to our existing experienced Board and management team. His background includes being responsible for financially guiding aQuantive to profitability and a multi-billion dollar market cap before the Microsoft acquisition.

He joins WidgetBucks' Board at an important time, as we hit our second full year of rapid growth after seeing ad impression volume grew by 150 percent over the course of 2008.

In Michael's words: “When it comes to core fundamentals within the online advertising space – monetization, expansion and targeting – WidgetBucks is well positioned to be a big ad play. What further attracted me to this appointment is the management team’s successful history, new proprietary optimization technology, including YieldSense, and their sound financial backing and infrastructure.”

We've added a lot of industry experience lately. Michael is the third industry veteran to join WidgetBucks’ management team and/or Board in the last several months: Chief Revenue Officer Kirby Winfield joined in August, while Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bergstrom came on board in October. Combined, the two chief officers represent over $3 billion in shareholder value from past acquisitions.

Welcome, Michael!

- Matt Hulett
CEO, WidgetBucks

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Putting the 'e' in CPM

Having recently spent a week in Las Vegas enjoying Affiliate Summit West, I had an interesting conversation that I thought might benefit some of our own publishers. It’s about the importance of “e” in eCPM. Most people that do any advertising are pretty familiar with what CPM, CPA, and CPC stand for. And I’m sure there will be a host of people which will defend the benefits of each one for being the best way to make money online. Fortunately when you enter the world of “eCPM” it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day it IS all about eCPM.

eCPM is really “effective CPM.” It means if you took all the revenue you made from CPM, CPA, and CPC advertising and adding them together to determine how much you are truly getting paid per 1000 visitors to your site. When evaluating any mix of advertising it’s always best to calculate your eCPM. I see CPA offers that garner $100 on a lead, while others $0.50. And while one may look more impressive than the other, it depends on how well it’s converting to determine which has a higher eCPM.

At WidgetBucks the same math applies since we mix both CPM advertising and CPC advertising. Since you’re able to earn revenue both in the volume of impressions as well as how many click through on the Shopping, Local, or Travel widgets, we boil everything together as your eCPM value. It is because of this performance companent that placement of widgets becomes essential to optimize your site visitors to earn you the most money. A widget placed in the footer of your site might receive a lot of impressions, however due to the placement will probably not have great CTR to lift the eCPM.

Thus when trying to evaluate the performance of your widgets, spend a moment to look at the Widget Detail tab and compare how your widget is performing both in CPM and CPC revenue and determine if changes should be made on placement or styles. Put the “e” back into CPM by letting WidgetBucks be more effective for you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WidgetBucks Wins OnMedia ‘Newcomer of the Year’ Award

Each year, the folks over at AlwaysOn hand out various honors and distinctions, some en masse (AlwaysOn 250, OnMedia 100), others in a more singular fashion. That’s the case for WidgetBucks, which has been awarded the prestigious OnMedia 100 Newcomer of the Year award by AlwaysOn.

WidgetBucks was selected from among all OnMedia 100 winners, which are emerging companies recognized by AlwaysOn’s editorial team as game-changing players that are disrupting user behavior and creating new opportunities in the marketing, branding, advertising, and publishing industries.

We'd also like to congratulate the team at The Rubicon Project for winning the OnMedia "Company of the Year" Award.

The AlwaysOn editorial team took note of WidgetBucks’ progress during 2008, but we couldn’t have done it without you, our publishers.

Over the course of 2008, WidgetBucks:

  • grew 150 percent to 1.5 billion impressions per month, making it the fastest growing online ad network
  • signed over 20,000 publishers and bloggers across its network
  • broke into comScore’s Ad Net report, the first ad widget network to join the list
  • secured $10 million in Series B financing, led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • deployed YieldSense, proprietary yield-optimization technology that maximizes publishers’ rate of return on their ad space
  • launched a “hybrid” CPC/CPM ad that creates two types of revenue from the same widget instance
  • expanded beyond its flagship shopping channel through new feeds and partners and its CPC network into Western Europe
  • added two chief officers – Chief Revenue Office Kirby Winfield and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bergstrom – who have generated over $3B in shareholder value through past acquisitions and mergers
  • won two other awards -- AlwaysOn Global 250, Mashable Open Web Award
Our CEO Matt Hulett heads to New York the first week of February for the OnMedia conference, where WidgetBucks and the other OnMedia 100 winners will be recognized.

Thanks again, publishers and bloggers! Here's to a great 2009!

- Dean

Friday, January 9, 2009

Top 5 Online Ad Predictions of 2009: Not All Doom & Gloom

No matter which way you look at it, 2008 ended on a down note for the online ad market. However, 2009 is not being viewed by all as doom and gloom. Even in a down market, online advertising will continue to evolve. We here at WidgetBucks think that 2009 will bring about some change, much of it positive, in the online advertising world, including:

  • Exchanges will start to weed out arbitrage: Much like Google, exchanges will weed out those who thrive on inefficiencies. Much like Google, exchanges want to make more money and squeezing arbitrageurs is a logical next step once you’ve carved out share.

  • Ad nets won't die. In fact, strong ones will gain influence: Vertical focus and inventory on sites that have high engagement will define success
  • Social Media advertising and widget use will come of age: Audience targeting emerges to create viable CPC and CPM inventory where remnant ruled before and widgets will come into their own as long as they make money for publishers, create engagement for brands, and provide value for users
  • Remnant display networks won’t die: Despite popular belief, networks representing remnant inventory will not go away but they will evolve. We think they will focus on performance based sales. Again it will all be about ROI.
  • Targeting won't just be a media sales person’s byword any longer: Real integrated behavioral targeting/affinity/demo/channel targeting will bolster movement of offline ad dollars online.
What changes in online advertising do you think will happen in 2009?

- Kirby Winfield
Chief Revenue Officer