500 Startups Alum LaunchBit Launches Its Email Ad Network

Advertising in email newsletters is an old idea, but the founders of LaunchBit, a startup that’s leaving closed beta testing today, say things haven’t changed since the ’90s.

The biggest problem? When you advertise in newsletters, you blindly send the same ad to everyone on the list.

“There’s no targeting or tailoring to specific individuals and little-to-no analytics to track how the campaign did,” says co-founder Elizabeth Yin. “This also means that advertisers would often have to pay a lot of money for a single large list before knowing it worked. So, if you wanted to test lots of newsletters, you’d have to spend tens of thousands of dollars before you had a chance to think about iterating copy and improve the campaign. Most companies don’t have this kind of budget just to test.”

Yin used to be a marketing manager at Google, and she says the LaunchBit experience is similar to Google AdWords. You create your ads, identify the demographics of the audience that you want to reach, and choose the cost-per-click (CPC) price that you’re willing to pay. Then, Yin says, “Your ad wins a certain number of impressions in multiple newsletters, ensuring that you reach your target demographic and allowing you to get your campaign in multiple newsletters with a ‘normal-sized ad budget.'” Publishers meanwhile, get to see the ad and the CPC bid and reject the ones they don’t like.

She also says LaunchBit is focused on “value and aesthetics,” giving advertisers analytics to understand the effectiveness of their ads and only accepting high-quality publishers and advertisers.

LaunchBit is a graduate of the 500 Startups incubator program. The ad network has been in private beta testing and has limited its ads to the software industry. The early results are promising, Yin says — ads in the best newsletters consistently see clickthrough rates between 1 and 10 percent, and that one campaign saw CTRs as high as 18 percent.

In addition to leaving the closed beta, LaunchBit is also announcing that it will now running campaigns in any industry, and it’s also integrating with email newsletter service MailChimp.