Business development managers working to drive online advertising sales for their digital agencies’ clients will like Joe Marchese: he’s at war with an industry that too often allows genuinely creative efforts in digital advertising to get buried in a tsunami of worthless impressions. And his LA-based company, interactive ad startup True[X], has just bagged a further $6 million in Series D to stuff into its war chest.
The war on worthless impressions
Marchese says the money is an extension of the Series D it raised back in 2011 (in those days, it was called “SocialVibe”); existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Pinnacle Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and Jafco Ventures stumped up. The extra cash, Marchese confirmed, will be ploughed into helping True[X] follow its aims more aggressively.
But what, the inquiring business development manager will be asking, do those aims consist of? Marchese wants to attract more big-name, quality publishers to the startup’s ad platform, moving the industry away from shady practices that he likens to Wall Street’s operations in the subprime crisis of 2008.
If that’s whetted our business development manager’s curiosity even further, here’s Marchese’s argument: the financial products market rewarded the wrong things. It mass-marketed housing loans that anyone could see couldn’t possibly be repaid by their recipients. Then it bundled and repackaged these toxic, virtually valueless bad loans as something of valueand resold them to “unknowing (or worse, complicit) financial institutions”.
Marchese argues that the same thing is happening in media. The media industry has also been rewarding the wrong things: “impressions” – even when no human eye has ever seen them. These, too, are subject to “willfully negligent packaging and repackaging”, despite being “worthless”in reality.
Quality over quantity
True[X] wants to attract publishers who “favor quality over volume”; it aims to foster deeper consumer engagement with interactive ads which reach them where they’re already most passionately active on Web – social, social gaming, music, video, content, travel, sports and WiFi.
The startup’s ads begin deceptively as display and text ads; but as soon as a visitor clicks on them they open up to full screen and burst into life with interactive video capabilities, and clients get data about the time a user spends engaging with the ad, social sharing, brand awareness and, wait for it, impressions (plus more besides).
Pretty neat, huh?