NYPost.com has begun using AlmondNet's behavioral targeting software to offer online advertising tied to users' site behavior.
Like other behavioral targeting players such as Revenue Science and Tacoda Systems, New York-based AlmondNet lets publishers sell lower-priced ad inventory at a premium based on visitors' prior site behavior. For example, the Post could sell ads to an online travel business targeting users who have visited its travel section once in the past two weeks. Such ads would command a premium in lower-demand areas such as general news. NYPost.com devotes a significant amount of its ad inventory to contextual listings through Google's AdSense program.
AlmondNet's technology can target ads based on site behavior, demographics, registration data and other audience attributes. It has partnered with CMP Media to target ads on its technology Web sites.
Publishers have shown interest in using behavioral targeting software to boost the price for ads in their less-popular site sections. Tacoda has signed 500 publishers including Belo Interactive, iVillage and Weather.com. The Wall Street Journal Online, ESPN.com and CBS MarketWatch are among those using Revenue Science.
“It's like Overture on steroids,” said Roy Shkedi, AlmondNet's CEO, of behavioral targeting.
AlmondNet plans to start an ad network to address one problem with pinpoint audience targeting: a lack of volume.
Shkedi said AlmondNet is in talks with a large portal to provide run-of-site inventory that niche publishers such as CMP could sell based on its audience. For example, visitors reading about Web servers could be shown Nortel ads after they have left the site and gone to a general-interest portal. The idea is to give smaller publishers the chance to make money off their audience data, even if they lack inventory to run ads.
“The key to making it work is who owns the data,” Shkedi said. “We must make sure the people selling the lucrative audience are the sites the visitors are from.”
Unlike Tacoda, AlmondNet does not plan to sell advertising itself, avoiding a situation Shkedi likened to that faced by DoubleClick's former ad network: competing with its own publisher partners.
“We're enabling high CPM sites to sell their audience to advertisers elsewhere,” he said. Publishers providing the excess inventory would set a level at which they are willing to give impressions to AlmondNet partners.
Though publishers have implemented behavioral targeting capabilities, audience-based campaigns remain rare. Tacoda estimates it runs about 100 per month, with its publishers generating an extra $10 million in revenue in the past year. AlmondNet said its software has powered about 400 campaigns in the past 18 months.