Emerging from Bloomington Startup Weekend last February was the sense of awareness about projects in the local community Startups have been and continue to be active in the area.
Big Treetop, for example, recently held a demo party for their beta testers. This Tuesday, SproutBox will be working a room full of “buzz builders” to kickstart their project. And after working on their business for two years, isocket is starting to put their advertising platform into action.
isocket is a local startup creating a custom advertising platform
Part of the motivation for our recent face lift ("BlogSchmog goes to the spa") was to prepare the way to be an active beta tester for isocket, a development platform for the advertising industry. We carved out a couple places for advertising badges in the new theme design: on the home page, in the footer, and in the sidebars next to every article. Interested advertisers can click on those placeholders and be transported to the isocket site with instructions on how to purchase the ad.
This week, we sold our first 7-day homepage ad to PlanetHTTP, an Internet hosting service.
A place where opportunity grows
isocket is the first commission-free advertising platform—they don’t charge for this transaction. Their business model is dependent on cultivating a transparent environment to support interactions between the buyers and sellers of ads. isocket will eventually offer up their data to interested developers to create the widgets, tools, and services to keep the transactions flowing.
Buyers can plan and manage “360°” ad campaigns, allowing the same message to be placed all around their target audience. Unlike with larger ad businesses, each buyer controls exactly where every dollar goes by searching isocket’s marketplace for the best deals and best audience match. Sellers earn more revenue because no commission fee is charged, but they also have control over which ads they accept. isocket facilitates direct sales by exposing smaller and niche ad venues to more advertisers and by collecting payment.
Down the road, sellers will be able to decide how the price is determined. Closed bids, possible now, allow the seller to set the price. He asks, “Who wants this space?” and a buyer responds, “I do.” Open bids allow the market to determine the value. The seller declares, “I’ve got this space,” and buyers inquire, “Can I have it?” When bids are collected, the seller retains the right to accept her preferred deal.
The simple click-to-buy process took just minutes to set up. To create my available ads, I submitted a few simple forms on the isocket page to define two BlogSchmog ad sockets. Each socket is assigned to a specific ad configuration, determining color and size. Adding two lines of script to the blog theme’s design generates the ad placeholder. When PlanetHTTP was interested enough to place an offer, I was notified to return to the isocket web site to review and ultimately approve the new ad for the listed price. Moments after doing so, the new banner showed up on our blog.
Eventually, isocket will allow for other ad channels, too, beyond web site banners. Widgets, applications, email, video, digital billboards, and traditional forms of advertising are all expected to be supported. From the long list of options in their web forms, here are just a few ways our lives can be offered up for ad revenue:
- Websites—Beyond what is described above, web site campaigns can be engineered in creative ways to allow ads to change based on date or category content. Each adcode can be programmed to dynamically select from a list of created sockets, rendering the most appropriate one based on the content being displayed.
- Video—Product placement for the YouTube age. Imagine Carter and Archie fighting as Jedi with a banner for The Game Preserve hanging on the wall behind them.
- Social Networks—I could sponsor every 20th tweet with a link to some local business. Or maybe a restaurant can buy me lunch if I tweet about eating there.
- RSS Feeds—Subscribers to BlogSchmog could get a small link to a business or organization added to the bottom of every post.
- Podcast—There would be a much greater incentive to create a local area or domain podcast if I could find a sponsor ahead of time.
- Large Signage—Our roof could be crafted into an ad visible to passing planes and satellites … including those taking pictures for Google Earth.
- Athletic Sponsorship—The next time Amy runs a marathon, perhaps Smith’s Sport ‘n Shoe would pay for childcare while she trains in exchange for wearing their logo on her running shirt.
- Conferences—It would be much easier to find sponsors for another local Startup Weekend with such an easy mechanism to define and recruit financial help.
- Parties—Archie’s fifth birthday in October could be sponsored by Target and bring him all the Bionicles his heart desires. There might even be some YouTube footage of the cake-n-candle ceremony with opportunities for bonus product placement.
- Clothing—Every Wednesday, I’ll wear a t-shirt with a company or product logo and information as I walk around town, interacting with people.
- Body Art— How desperate are we for money to get us through the final years of grad school? Enough to consider tattooing the Bloomington Bagel Company logo on my hand. (I’m guessing the price would be pretty steep on that one and include payment for a post-graduation procedure to get it removed.)
With isocket, advertising transactions aren’t limited to banner ads on web sites. Sockets can be created for almost any channel that a seller can imagine and a buyer finds appealing enough to purchase.
isocket is currently in private beta, launching their initial banner ad service this summer. The number of ads served has grown by 30-40% each week, possibly altering their funding strategy. The team may decide to wait on major investment capital and continue to expand services on their own.Tags: 47408, advertising, banner ads, Big Treetop, Bloomington, Bloomington Startup Weekend, Indiana, isocket, local interest, platform, Sproutbox, Startup Weekend, startups, transparency