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Introducing Genesis Media, a New York ad firm

There’s a big prob­lem with obtru­sive online adver­tis­ing: most peo­ple hate it. But what if it turns into your gate­way to sought-after con­tent with­out pay­ing for it? Most sea­soned busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers would prob­a­bly agree that that’s a pret­ty nifty con­cept – and it’s the dri­ving force behind New York-based adver­tis­ing start­up Gen­e­sis Media, which has just announced that it’s bagged a hand­some $6 mil­lion in Series B funding.

The soft pay­wall – a busi­ness devel­op­ment manager’s dream concept

The start­up was borne of the fusion of two oth­er ad firms – TVGe­n­e­sis and AdGe­n­e­sis – back in Novem­ber 2011. Its CEO, Mark Yack­anich, describes it some­what cryp­ti­cal­ly as “a data-dri­ven deci­sion­ing plat­form that inter­cepts users with media.” That may leave the aver­age busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er feel­ing dis­tinct­ly baf­fled, but basi­cal­ly its Con­tentUn­lock plat­form oper­ates a ‘soft’ pay­wall for pub­lish­ers, who let users access their con­tent pro­vid­ed they view tar­get­ed and timed ads (most of them in video form).

In exchange for free con­tent, peo­ple need to watch the ads in their entire­ty. But the imme­di­ate exchange of con­tent for ad view­ing rather bril­liant­ly brings to user atten­tion the role of online adver­tis­ing in main­tain­ing a free Web. The ads become a good deal less irri­tat­ing as a result. So this is a kind of pay­wall which doesn’t require mon­ey: the cur­ren­cy instead is just a lit­tle time and attention.

Smart cal­i­bra­tion

Accord­ing to Yack­anich, Gen­e­sis “con­tex­tu­al­izes” ads. View­ers are made aware that they’re not going to be bom­bard­ed – they just watch the tar­get­ed ad and Con­tentUn­lock ensures that they won’t see anoth­er one for anoth­er sev­en arti­cles, or for 24 or 48 hours, or even for a week.

The tech­nol­o­gy rec­og­nizes that “dif­fer­ent con­sumers have dif­fer­ent val­ues to dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ers”, Yack­anich says, mean­ing that the num­ber and kind of ads will shift from read­er to read­er. Those who pub­lish­ers con­sid­er high val­ue view­ers because they’ve vis­it­ed the site direct­ly, for exam­ple, gen­er­al­ly don’t imme­di­ate­ly get served with an ad. But those who are less like­ly to stay around for long (because, say, they’ve arrived at the site via a link on Twit­ter) will get a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence. As Yack­anich puts it, for these view­ers, Con­tentUn­lock lets pub­lish­ers pur­sue “more aggres­sive monetization.”

Publisher’s cur­rent­ly on the Gen­e­sis client ros­ter include The Smith­son­ian, USA Today Sports, Bon­nier and Amer­i­can Media.

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