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So Long Federated Media, And Thanks For All The Fish

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Federated Media has been our advertising partner since December 2005. The first checks they sent us allowed TechCrunch to become something more than a guy sitting in a spare bedroom talking about startups to a small audience. Revenue from Federated Media let me hire our first few writers and helped accelerate our growth to the point where we are today.

We’ve had our very vocal dustups with Federated Media over the years, but the fact is that we owe FM a lot, and I’m somewhat sad to announce today that our relationship with them is coming to an end (see Federated’s announcement here). We’ll no longer be working with them on ad sales. We’ve long sold many of our ads directly, and as of now we’ll be taking control of 100% of TechCrunch network ad inventory.

In some ways this is a rite of passage for our still-young blog network. TechCrunch is starting to grow up. We now have six full-time writers on TechCrunch, and our total writing staff across our network is 20 bloggers strong. The TechCrunch Network now reaches more than 5.5 million unique visitors per month and 15 million page views (TechCrunch proper is more than 3 million uniques and 10 million page views / month.) In short, we’re finally getting big enough to matter directly to advertisers and agencies.

I’m personally excited about our new direction. Heather Harde, our CEO, has deep experience in sales and has acquired advertising technology companies in her previous job at News Corp. She’s got a lot of ideas on where online advertising is going. And as our CrunchCam shows, she can get an ad unit on just about anything.

One of the things we’re going to pilot with our expanded go-to-market sales strategy is a self-serve platform hosted by isocket. As the largest independent media property covering technology, TechCrunch is in the fortunate position to have a lot of advertising prospects reach out to us with interest in running on our network. Offering a self-serve platform will enable us to sell smaller units of TechCrunch inventory to be more timely and affordable to marketers and start-ups. For example, we used to sell month-long sponsorships exclusively, and now have weekly, and in some cases, daily buyout opportunities. Inventory on all TechCrunch properties is available, including CrunchGear, MobileCrunch, TechCrunchIT, CrunchBase, TechCrunchEurope, TechCrunchFrance and TechCrunchJapan.

The isocket service is brand new. One of the things that makes working at TechCrunch so much fun is discovering new start-ups and getting to test them out first. TechCrunch is the first pilot client for isocket, a new, yet-to-be-funded startup by John Ramey and Zak Hassanein. The isocket self-serve ad platform sits on top of OpenAds, our ad-serving partner, and will help us offer more transparent and flexible pricing options to advertisers. We’re launching with a modest set of variables, all time-based buyout by the day, week or month. In the coming weeks, we’ll add the ability to purchase CPM-based advertising. We’ll also be launching new targeting channels. For example, marketers who want to reach a mobile audience, can focus a package that includes MobileCrunch, as well as the relevant pages of CrunchGear and TechCrunch and on matching company profiles on CrunchBase.

One of the practices that we will discontinue, at least for the short time, is running ad inventory from multiple third-party networks. Since we haven’t been selling all our own inventory, we need time to get a clean read of the demand for premium advertising on our network. Google AdSense will provide backfill for remnant impressions for the immediate future.

We’d like to acknowledge Federated Media for the contributing role they’ve played to help TechCrunch get to where it is today. Notwithstanding our differences of opinion about the role of conversational marketing, we part friends. Unlike others, we’re not leaving to move to competitive selling networks, we’re just leaving to chart our own course. John, Neil and Chas have contributed to the TechCrunch business in important ways over the last three years. Federated’s commitment to represent aspiring authors is still an important role in the publishing ecosystem.

As part of our kick-off, we’re offering a 20% discount on all advertising purchased directly online through isocket during the month of May (discounted inventory based on availability through 12/31/09.) Our traditional rates resume June 1, so please use this opportunity to test us out and save.

Of course, we welcome advertisers to contact us directly to purchase advertising on either a sponsorship or CPM basis. Please email heather [at] techcrunch [dot] com or visit techcrunch.com/advertise.

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