Why is so much Internet advertising boring or annoying? And how can content do something about that? I’ve been working professionally with the Internet for a long time – I registered the first newspaper domain name in 1988 (Houston Chronicle’s chron.com), connected the newspaper to the Internet in 1990 (you’ll find me in 1990’s Internet Manager’s Phonebook), and launched its Website (where we sold its first digital ad) in 1994. And yet Internet display ads have never really worked for me, or for millions of other people. It seems like most ads I see are either print ads shoved online, or obvious traps laid for the gullible. Why does that have to be? Display ads are prominent on virtually every site I visit – can they not include commercial messages that don’t annoy me? Three relatively recent developments led the OneSpot team down the path towards creating the first Web-scale content advertising platform over the past 18 months:
- Businesses have discovered how to produce great content that they want people to see. Content they create – including blogs, videos, whitepapers, webinars and more – or content others have created, including reviews of products or services, or articles about the company or relevant trends.
- Marketers are ready to use their budgets to prove ROI from content by driving business outcomes. In a world where interruptive marketing is starting to lose its relevance, nearly every business is building a content strategy. Yet that strategy is missing a distribution component tied to marketing goals.
- The technology is here to support convergence. The largest audience in history is accessible through realtime bidding on ad exchanges, and machine learning and big data allow messages to be optimized for what actually drives business outcomes.
We saw an opportunity to bridge the gap – to take the content investment that businesses have already made and use it to deliver results through the power, data intelligence, and infrastructure of online advertising. Native advertising – where ads mesh with what users are already doing rather than interrupting them – is becoming more widespread, but emerging custom formats are still far from standard, and lack the maturity and reach of the existing display ad network. So we combined content and display to get the best of both. The marketers who have successfully used the OneSpot platform to drive new business with their content agreed that the time was right – Ryan Koechel, the visionary Director of eCommerce at Spectrum Brands, said: [box] “A content strategy is something we always thought we had prior to working with OneSpot. Previously we put out a piece of content through social media, our blog, or on our site and hoped we received some traction, now with OneSpot we can get a piece of content in front of a ton of eyeballs on day one and then use the data to start building audience and re-target with relevant follow-up content.”[/box]
I’ve been privileged to work with a fantastic team, including:
- Ian Clarke, the creator of Freenet and SenseArray and cofounder of Revver and Thoof
- Brian Axe, the founding Product Director of AdSense at Google, and
- Chris Richter, the first salesperson (and employee #5) at Bazaarvoice and founding CEO of Socialware.
We’re also pleased to be backed by an amazing and diverse group of investors, including:
- Kelli Turner of RSL Venture Partners (media industry veteran and the former CFO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia)
- Paul Singh of 500 Startups
- Ralph Mack (angel investor in many successful digital ventures including Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice)
- Mike Maples, Sr. (retired Executive Vice President, Worldwide Products Group and Member of the Office of the President, Microsoft Corporation), and
- Joshua Baer (founder of OtherInbox and former CTO, Datran Media).
We’d appreciate the opportunity to work with you as well – if you’re interested in applying for our private preview, please let us know!
Matt Cohen (Founder and CEO)