Interviewed by Jennifer McFadden
Describe your product/service.
isocket helps websites sell their own ads directly to advertisers. The seller/website can package their ads they way they want to, with their own rules and pricing. We offer a clean interface for buyers to easily purchase ad campaigns and for sites and bloggers to manage those campaigns. We take care of all the painful parts: invoices, payments, ad serving, statistics, scheduling, etc.
How can isocket help local publishers?
Local media shouldn’t have to think small just because they are small. Ad networks alone often don’t cut it. Even though local advertisers are buying less radio and newspaper ads, they still want to reach local people. Local websites and blogs are the way to do it – so we give them the tools to go from stuck-with-AdSense to a hyperlocal ad-selling machine.
How do you simplify the process of advertising online for local businesses?
The key to local ad sales is simplicity. People don’t want to jump through hoops to buy a $100 monthly sponsorship, or to learn how complicated ad-targeting exchanges work. We make the process as painless as possible.
Who is currently using your product?
Check out TechCrunch. They were our first customer and are one of the largest technology news sites in the world. We’ve also been working with a few Brooklyn-based bloggers during our beta. These are some of the amazing sites:
• Brooklyn Heights Blog
How can local publishers increase revenue on their sites?
• Think of selling your own ads like you’re opening up a local retail store. You have a store where you want to sell products to customers. That means promotion, relationships, money, etc.
• If you’re new to direct sales, it can take a while to ramp up. Again, your store doesn’t turn a profit on opening day.
• Don’t overprice your inventory. Focus on pipeline, then raise the prices to an equilibrium.
• Promote!!! How will anyone buy from your store if they don’t know you’re open for business?
Who are your primary competitors? What value do you provide that makes Isocket a better solution?
In terms of similar tools for hyperlocal, the biggest competitor is actually “paper and pencil.” Many publishers use a combo of email, a spreadsheet, PayPal, and maybe an ad server. The status quo needs to change!
What is your revenue model?
The revenue share is a whopping 0%! isocket was the first commission-free ad platform. Publishers pay a flat monthly fee based on how large they are. For example, you can serve 1 million ad impressions per month for $49.
How does a local site implement your products?
We strive to make it as simple as possible, but it’s by nature not something that’s ready to go in 5 minutes. For example, you need to configure your ad packages and set the pricing. It can take 30 to 60 minutes to get out the door, but we’re always here to help.
What is your outlook for the local advertising marketplace over the next 2-5 years?
Maturing, hopefully. Advertisers want to reach these audiences in a meaningful way – it’s just too hard and inefficient to do so right now. The local ad industry will flourish when the transactional friction drops and the quality of inventory rises.
What do you see as the biggest hurdle for local advertisers? How does Isocket address this issue?
Local advertisers need an easy way to buy. They are used to the behavior of calling up their local radio station and saying “Hey Joe, put me down for another $5,000 this week.” They need it to be that simple for buying an ad online.
What sites do you think are effectively targeting and reaching the local market?
Brooklyn Heights Blog has run a prodigious number of ad orders through our system. The site has a combination of a well-known blog and an easy-to-manage interface (via isocket). They also put an incredible amount energy toward contacting advertisers to buy on the site.