Infolinks has been known as one of the leaders of in-text and intent-based advertising since the dawn of internet advertising. Can you tell us if that vision has evolved over the years, and where it stands today?
Our vision stands even stronger today. With the proliferation of ad exchanges, real time intent has been abandoned in favor of tracking where the user was in the past, and not where the user is now. This is a big mistake, as we know that most shopping decisions are made within a day or two. This has led to the decline of the publisher, which is treated as a commodity on exchanges, and the over-emphasis on past data as tracked by older and older cookies, most of which are probably not relevant. Infolinks is one of the last companies, if not the last, that has the ability to read the text on the page in real time, as the user’s clickstream, and extract from that what the user cares about now, in real time. This also increases the publisher’s importance, because they have the real time data which no one else has.
How does your contextual matching technology work?
As I mentioned above, we read the page in real time, as well as track the aggregate user intent on that page over time. Every time the page loads, we send a copy of the text of the page to our servers and that gets analyzed in real time. It’s important to say that all this is done AFTER the page loads, so there’s no impact on the user experience, and it’s also important to note the beauty of contextual technology is that we don’t track user behavior or store any user profiles. It doesn’t matter to us who you are personally, the only thing that’s important is your real time intent.
Your product offering includes InArticle, InFold, InScreen, InText, InTag, and InFrame ad units. Have certain ad formats worked better for different categories of advertisers, and if so, which format worked best for what type of advertiser category?
That’s a great question – unfortunately there’s no easy answer. Different units work differently for different advertisers. When an advertiser works with us, we take responsibility for optimizing their campaign so that we show their ads in the units and on the sites and keywords where they work. We have a full partnership with our advertisers and “skin in the game” to make sure they are successful.
How was Infolinks able to scale to over 150,000 integrated publisher partners? Does having this type of scale help with matching advertisers with the best possible publisher sites and keywords for their ads to appear on?
As our marketing department regularly complains, we have a very small marketing budget. Most of our sites come from word of mouth. Yes, the scale helps us a lot because it allows us to have a great diversity of advertisers. A broad base of publishers allows us to serve the right offer to right person.
Is there a minimum impression volume threshold you need for a publisher to start working with Infolinks?
No, you do not need to have a minimum amount of traffic to work with us – we’d love to grow your business with you. The only limit we have is that of content. We do not accept objectionable content, adult sites, hate speech, and so on.
Consumers seem to be adopting ad blocking technologies at a rapid clip. How do you think that this ad blocking conundrum will play out over the next few years?
Ad blocking is wrong. Plain and simple. If a site you go to shows you too many ads, don’t go there. Or write them and complain. If a game you download shows you too many ads, don’t play it. Installing an ad blocker and going to sites that are ad supported is no different than eating at a restaurant and paying with a fake check.
We try to do our best by showing relevant ads, and the fact is that our CTR is way above industry average, indicating great relevancy.
In terms of how it will play out – it’s a good question – one thing is for sure, if all the users installed an ad blocker tomorrow, there would be almost no internet. No Facebook. No Google. Practically no content. Since I believe that outcome is not acceptable to 99% of the users, I believe ads are here to stay, and that ad tech and advertisers need to do their best to be relevant and non-intrusive. The best example for great advertising in my view is a magazine like Vogue. The ads are so good and so relevant, they’re like content… probably the main reason you buy the magazine in the first place…
There have been many talks about ad viewability recently, with advertisers stating that they want a high percentage of their ads visible. Do you think that a 80% or 90% viewability rate is reasonable, and even fair, for publishers or ad networks?
Yes, I think viewability is a fair standard. The whole beauty of online advertising is that it’s very well measurable. Since viewability can be measured, publishers that show viewable ads should be rewarded much more than those that doesn’t. Of course, at Infolinks we are biased, because we only create units that are highly viewable. Objective third parties that have measured the viewability of our units have put us in “the top of the class” of the inventory they’ve seen.
What is your take on programmatic buying?
Programmatic buying is very useful and an important part of the online advertising eco-system, but one of its major flaws in the way that it is implemented on current exchanges, is that it completely ignores real-time intent, which is not currently available programmatically. We use exchanges to sell our remnant inventory, but we’ve found that real-time intent targeting constantly outperforms the exchanges. Programmatic buying will be greatly enhanced the day exchanges supplement their data with real-time technologies.
It was recently reported that impression volume on AppNexus fell by over 90% after fraud was cut out. What do you think about fraud that can be found on exchanges, and how do you think that we, as an industry, can mitigate the growth of this ad fraud?
I think that as an industry we need to find ways to get together and have a combined database of fraudsters. The problem is that these bad players “burn” themselves with one network, and then go ahead and do the same thing to someone else (or just come back to the same network as a different entity…). A joint database of bad players would help fight this problem.
Lastly, what do you see as the future for independent, specialized ad networks such as Infolinks?
We pride ourselves as a company that supports the independent content creator. Not many networks do that anymore. It seems like all the ad-tech players are going after the same top 100 publishers. We see things differently. We believe in the importance of the independent voice and the diversity of content that can be created by people that are passionate about what they do. In a world where content is “dumbed down” to the lowest common denominator, we’re happy to be able to help independent creators make money from their craft and produce more of it.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Infolinks provides advertising solutions to more than 200K website owners and bloggers worldwide, helping them monetize their sites with style and ease.
Infolinks’ intent driven native ads powered by real time intent targeting, are customizable to match each and every website, making them yield X30 more engagement than regular display ads.
By extracting user intent in real-time, our technology renders high engagement ad units, and runs a keyword-based real time bidding auction, all in order to deliver a perfectly timed, perfectly relevant ad.
Infolinks offers five unique advertising options, allowing each publisher to customize their site with the winning combination that works for them, and to create additional revenue from their unused ad space:
* InFrame: Advertise outside the lines with beautifully designed vertical banner ads
* InFold: Target ads to what your visitors are searching for with unobtrusive footer ads
* InTag: Display each page’s most valuable keywords in a colorful tag cloud
* InText: Highlight your content’s top keywords with relevant, high-quality ads
*InScreen: Serves highly viewable and relevant ads as an “ad intermission” between page views
For more info go to http://www.infolinks.com