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Kansas City startup Bixy aims to make bad ads extinct

Art direc­tors, copy­writ­ers and account man­agers alike are unit­ed in one over­ar­ch­ing quest: to cre­ate great ads for their online adver­tis­ing agen­cies. But one up-and-com­ing ad shop from Kansas City believes that many are get­ting it seri­ous­ly wrong, cre­at­ing bad online ads that put peo­ple off and make them feel just a lit­tle creeped out.

So says Kyle John­son, CEO and co-founder of Mis­souri-based new­bie Bixy, which launched in 2010 and has just gone pub­lic at CES.  The good news is that John­son also believes that online ads are here to stay. There would be no free con­tent with­out ad rev­enue, so web­sites, media ser­vices and con­sumers all still need them.

Laser-focused rewards

But if most online ads are “use­less”, in Kyle’s ter­mi­nol­o­gy, what’s the way for­ward?  He believes that per­son­al­ized rewards are the answer, like prod­uct dis­counts or oth­er con­sumer incen­tives. This approach trans­lates into few­er but more effec­tive ads, giv­ing busi­ness­es bet­ter results and pre­vent­ing mon­ey being wast­ed on inef­fec­tive alternatives.

Bixy tar­gets its ads on Gen‑Y con­sumers pre­dom­i­nant­ly, espe­cial­ly women who tend to be more con­cerned about web pri­va­cy than men.  But it also aims to appeal to both small and large busi­ness­es, pro­vid­ing “laser-focused” alter­na­tives to indis­crim­i­nate ban­ner ads for the lat­ter and a free ser­vice for the former.

The company’s phi­los­o­phy is one of the key dif­fer­en­tia­tors from oth­er ad net­works, who resort to cook­ie track­ing and oth­er opaque meth­ods to tar­get web con­sumers.  John­son explains, “We believe that adver­tis­ing should be trans­par­ent and that con­sumers should con­trol their adver­tis­ing expe­ri­ence. We also want con­sumers to most­ly get per­son­al­ized rewards instead of tra­di­tion­al ban­ner ads.  Today adver­tis­ers rely on sneaky track­ing tech­nolo­gies to attempt to pro­file and tar­get con­sumers.  Not only does this raise a whole bunch of pri­va­cy con­cerns, but also it turns ad serv­ing into guesswork.”

A direct and trans­par­ent approach

Instead, Bixy puts a direct ques­tion straight to the cus­tomer: “What do you want?”  Then it gives it to him or her.  Con­sumers nev­er lose con­trol over their own web data.

The start­up aims to gen­er­ate rev­enue from ad agen­cies and busi­ness­es which opt to adver­tise through it, and it’s already work­ing on part­ner­ships with sev­er­al shops and dig­i­tal publishers.

The goal? John­son puts it suc­cinct­ly, “We want to be a wide­ly-known alter­na­tive to bad ads by 2014.”

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