After Selling Its Display Network To Ziff Davis, InPowered Expands ‘Earned Advertising’ Beyond Tech

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A few weeks ago, we broke the news that InPowered would be selling its NetShelter display advertising business to publisher Ziff Davis. Now the company is ready to talk about what comes next.

Peyman and Pirouz Nilforoush, the brothers who co-founded InPowered and serve as CEO and president respectively, said they’re using the money from the deal (an undisclosed amount) to double down on InPowered’s concept of “earned advertising.”

Peyman said InPowered is taking a very different approach from the social and native advertising companies that are getting a lot of attention right now. You could almost think of it as the opposite of native ads, where advertisers take their own content and package it in a way that matches the content on a publisher’s site — to put it simply, they’re taking ads and packing them as content. With the InPowered platform, advertisers are going in the other direction, taking content and packing it as advertising — they can track the articles that are posted about their products, and then they use ads to promote the ones that they like.

Social ads, meanwhile, are about promoting the influence of friends and family, which Peyman acknowledged is important, but mostly for “impulse decisions.”

“There’s this whole other side that consumers go through every single day,” he said. “If they’re trying to figure out where to go for vacation, it’s an informed decision and you truly require experts.”

That’s been the idea behind InPowered all along, but until now the company has focused on technology. Now, however, Peyman and Pirouz said they’re starting to work with advertisers outside the area. They didn’t give me a full list of every category that they’re planning to expand into — in part, it seems, because they’re still deciding themselves.

“We’re actually letting the data guide us,” Pirouz said.

The first non-tech advertiser is Chevy, and the brothers said they expect to work with similar companies — brands whose products are purchased through considered decisions rather than impulse buys. Peyman and Pirouz said likely categories include auto (not surprising, given Chevy’s participation), fashion, travel, and gaming. They also noted that since they work with ad exchanges to distribute their ads, they don’t need to recruit an entirely new network of publishers for each category.

As part of the sale, InPowered announced that on the tech side alone, it has worked with 20 brands to promote content that has been opened and read by 2 million consumers. As the company expands into other areas, Nilforoush said it’s staying true to its initial goal: “We’re trying to make people better informed and more influential.”