In 2002, page views on Philip Kaplan’s infamous FuckedCompany website were going through the roof – and he needed an advertising platform to monetize those visitors. He couldn’t find the self-service product that he needed, so he built his own with co-founder Gidon Wise.
That ad platform was eventually spun out of FC and turned into Adbrite. Today, it”s the 11th largest ad network in the U.S. with 61.5 million unique visitors across represented sites, according to Comscore’s September report (advertising.com, with 146 million unique visitors, is the largest according to Comscore, although they do not rank Google Adsense).
Adbrite first started taking advertising for sites other than FC in 2003, and they raised $4 million in venture capital from Sequoia in September 2004 (Mark Kvamme joined the Adbrite board of directors). In February 2006, Adbrite raised another $8 million from Sequoia and Artis Capital, and Philip Kaplan replaced himself as CEO, bringing in Shopping.com veteran Iggy Fanlo to run the show.
Today Adbrite is one of the largest ad networks, with over 28,000 sites generating 750 million daily page views. 400 new publishers join the network each day. Adbrite keeps 30% of gross revenue generated, passing the remainder on to the publisher.
Until today, advertisers could only purchase simple text ads on the network, choosing specific sites to advertise on, or based on keywords appearing on pages within the network.
The new product, Adbrite 2.0, goes far beyond that. In addition to text ads, advertisers can purchase banner and other graphical ads as well as “interstitials” which take over an entire page when a visitor first comes to a website.
Advertisers can also target ads beyond keywords and specific publishers. Adbrite determines demographic data for visitors to network publishers via a cookie and reverse IP lookup. They grab U.S. census data based on the zip code of the visitor, which gives them data on ethnicity and income level. Adbrite also looks at Comscore data for each site that user visits, which gives them reasonalby good age and gender data. Once a user visits enough sites, Adbrite has a very good idea of the age, gender, ethnicity and income level of that particular user. Advertisers can then choose to target their ads to certain users. In the future, Adbrite says they will be able to track even more information on a user in the future – such as if they are a new parent, or looking for a car – based on the sites they visit.
All of this detailed user tracking allows Adbrite to charge more for ads, and pass that on to publishers, Philip Kaplan told me on a phone call earlier today.
There are new tools to help publishers, too. A key feature they have launched is the ability to allow publishers to stay with their current network, and change to Adbrite ads only if they’ll make more from those ads. So a publisher can show Google ads most of the time, and Adbrite will switch their own ads in only if they’ve sold inventory that pay over a publisher-set CPM level.