Monday, June 09, 2008

Marchex Takes On Google With Text Ad Network

Marchex Takes On Google With Text Ad Network

by Tameka Kee, Monday, Jun 9, 2008 7:45 AM ET

The latest entrant to the ad network fray isn't built on display and
rich media CPMs--it's all about selling pay-per-click (PPC) text ads on
a local, national and spot level. It's Adhere, a new offering from
Marchex, and it goes head-to-head with Google's AdSense.

Marchex's Adhere is a consolidation of two of the Seattle-based online
advertising tech and services company's subsidiaries, IndustryBrains and
Enhance Interactive. Industry Brains allowed advertisers to place
contextual ads across sites in verticals like home improvement, real
estate and business, while Enhance Interactive offered paid search
placement through partners like in-text ad provider Snap and AdBrite.
Adhere bundles those services with buys on OpenList, Marchex's roster of
locally focused Web sites to create a one-stop shop for local and
nationally placed paid search and contextual ads.

"We're a big believer in local. The OpenList network alone gets about 30
million unique visitors each month," said Leigh McMillan, vice president
of marketing at Marchex. "And we want to make it easier for advertisers
to make local buys and get national distribution with premium publishers
at the same time. You can buy TV in spot, national and local, so why not
text ads?"

While Marchex's Adhere is focused on text units, McMillan said that
there would be some display inventory. In the coming months, the company
also plans to integrate more of its VoiceStar call-tracking technology
into OpenList--which would add pay-per-call inventory to the Adhere mix.

McMillan said that brands like Roto-Rooter and Orkin would likely be the
prime targets for Adhere, as they need a blend of national presence and
local availability. "When my plumbing is backed up, I need someone local
to fix it," McMillan said. "I may know the Roto-Rooter name, but if I
search online, I'm trying to find the closest plumber to me." She added
that travel-related companies and brands that served different kinds of
products geographically were also likely to flock to Adhere.

As a text-based ad network, comparisons to Google AdSense are
inevitable. And while McMillan said Marchex had no illusions about the
fact that Adhere would be competing with AdSense for ad spend, the
company was confident that there is more than enough budget to go
around. "The brands we work with are saying we need more quality traffic
at volume," McMillan said. "We've maxed out Google and we need
additional ad channels."

McMillan said that it was a combination of those client requests and
shifts in the overall marketplace that fueled the development of Adhere.
"Marchex is a company that's been formed by acquisitions, so we had a
lot of assets spread out over different divisions," she said. "And we
wanted to make it easier for advertisers to do business with us across
all of our products and services--similar to what Microsoft has done
with Platform A."

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