Chances are that you installed an ad blocking extension to skip YouTube’s pre-roll video ads. But now, many media companies suffer from these ad blockers and have no choice but to switch to a freemium model or find a way to shove some ads down your throat. Meet Secret Media, an advertising technology startup specialized in advertising encryption so that even the most sophisticated ad blocking software can’t block your ads.
“We only work with top premium publishers,” co-founder and CEO Frédéric Montagnon told me in a phone interview. “Every time a publisher distributes a page, we deliver a different advertising tag. There are a bunch of redirections, re-encryptions and anonymizations.”
When I talked with Montagnon, I felt like he didn’t really want to go into detail to tell me the company’s secret sauce. And this is key to understanding Secret Media’s complicating industry. The team is starting a cat-and-mouse game between ad blocking contributors and Secret Media.
“I am absolutely sure that there is no credible alternative to online advertising”
Montagnon, Julien Romanetto and the rest of the team have been flying under the radar for the past few months not to raise awareness. But it doesn’t mean that the company hasn’t been active on the business side. Secret Media is already working with European publishers. “There is a bit of animosity around what we do,” Montagnon said. “Our clients want to remain anonymous, but, as of today, we deliver 5 million video ads per day.”
Secret Media focuses on video ads for now. This is where publishers suffer the most today, as video ads tend to be more expensive than your average banner ad. Moreover, the startup gets a cut for every ad it unblocks, so unblocking these ads could end up generating more revenue for Secret Media.
Based in New York with a few engineers working from France, the two co-founders invested $1 million of their own money from their previous venture.
“I am absolutely sure that there is no credible alternative to online advertising,” Montagnon said. But, according to an Adobe study, 26 percent of U.S.-based Internet users installed an ad blocker. And there is no end in sight — installing an ad blocker takes 2 clicks after all.
Many publishers complain about revenue loss from ad blocking, but few companies are working on a solution. Secret Media is the first interesting alternative I have seen so far. While hardcore ad blocking users might complain, advertising is the necessary evil of the web. So get ready to see some pre-roll video ads again.
(Photo credit: Daily Laurel)