AdForce Founders Jilt Firm's Ad Serving Technology

Share this content:
The brothers who founded Internet ad serving company AdForce Inc. appear to have spurned the company's technology for a new advertising-supported service they launched this month.

Ryan and Chad Steelberg oversaw AdForce's development into one of the biggest firms serving banner advertisements on the Web before leaving the company to try their hand at several other successful Web ventures. AdForce was bought by CMGI Inc. for more than $500 million last year.

More recently, the brothers gained attention with plans to give away broadband service through their new company, Broadband Digital Group, Newport Beach, CA. The company's FreeDSL service, which went live this month, provides high-speed Net access to consumers who agree to hand over demographic information and look at ads served to a browser bar that rests on their desktop.

BDG president Ryan Steelberg confirmed this week that FreeDSL will operate in conjunction with a third-party ad server. He also indicated that an agreement has been reached with an ad serving partner but declined to identify the company.

"We've signed a contract. I can tell you that," Steelberg said.

And it's not with AdForce, according to sources at that company.

"We're not serving ads for them," said AdForce spokeswoman Sheryl Draizen. AdForce's vice president and general counsel, Rex Jackson, who oversees ad serving contracts for the company, echoed the statement.

At press time, BDG had not responded to follow-up questions about why they opted against AdForce, whose technology the Steelbergs themselves helped to develop. AdForce also did not respond to an inquiry about why BDG might have chosen another firm.

AdForce arch rival DoubleClick Inc., whose DART product is the world's leading ad serving technology, serves Web banners on a "points prize page" run by Winfire, another Steelberg-founded company that was merged with BDG. Winfire provides the technological platform for the FreeDSL service.

DoubleClick has been in discussions with BDG, but the New York company is not prepared to reveal any details of their relationship, said DoubleClick spokeswoman Jennifer Blum. "We're not ready to talk about any sort of partnership with them," she said.

Ad serving is a technologically staggering task, requiring the targeted placement of billions of advertisements in real time across ad networks and individual sites all over the world. The industry is dominated by only a handful of players, all of which suffer technical glitches from time to time, said Dana Serman, vice president of equity research at investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co., New York.

It's not clear which company performs best. AdForce says it has the best "up time" in the industry, claiming to prove reliable 99.992 percent of the time. However, Serman said DoubleClick's DART has "certainly been better performing than AdForce."

Steelberg expects FreeDSL to be primarily ad-supported next year after the service has more fully ramped up. In the meantime, it will depend mostly on other revenue sources such as charging users for speed upgrades. BDG has several hundred advertising clients and FreeDSL has signed on 900,000 users, Steelberg said.

Next Article in Digital Marketing

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above