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AdRoll Strategy Review

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I know its the political season, so it is all sound bites, but AdRoll has piled up favorable press in a way that I can’t understand.

So they are building ad networks but only selling them through their self-serve interface.

“Adroll assembles blogs into co-ops and promises to pay more than the average $2 CPMs that many sites in the middle get.”

“Unlike Federated Media or Glam, Adroll doesn’t go out and try to sell ads for the blog co-ops that have signed up with it. Federated Media and Glam charge their publishers a pretty penny for doing that (about 40 percent of the revenue they bring in), but they do come back with high-paying ads, typically $10 CPM or higher. By automating its offering, Adroll will serve ads that typically pay publishers less than that, but much more than the $2 CPM typically paid by your average ad network.”

Now, I will say that if your point is just “we will sell what we can and sell it at high prices, ensuring that if we actually sold something, you would make a lot of money”, that’s fine.  How do they drive traffic to the site?  Why will people shop there?  I can’t make heads or tails of that.  If you don’t push inventory, you never make money.

Furthermore, I went and looked at one representative network: Alt Music Community.  Why that one?  It was the first on their list.  Anyway, here are the problems I see:

  • The majority of the traffic is international.  That means it is basically worthless.
  • Tons of below the fold impressions in small sizes – the one site I looked at was AudioPorn Central – I loved the name! – and the 160×600 was 6 page dn’s down.

Is that worth $2.53?  (or $2.37 if you agree to take all those international impressions)

It’s a hard sell.  Especially with no frequency cap.

I will say that I like how they show you where on the page the ad is and they show you impressions by slot by publisher.  If they showed you ctr by slot – while there are data problems with just that raw number – it would go a long way toward helping advertisers value inventory appropriately.

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