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Glam Media, a fast-growing advertising and publishing network for women, has acquired a Silicon Valley start-ups AdaptiveAds for an undisclosed price to help it better target ads.
Glam is one of the more controversial companies in Silicon Valley right now. It has witnessed rocketing growth over the past two years, by signing deals with publishers who agreed to place their content on Glam’s network and receive advertising for it. It recently emerged as a top-ten U.S. media site, according to Comscore.
All the while, Glam has faced continued naysaying from competitors and other critics, who say Glam is essentially a house of cards, built on the promise of delivering ads but extremely vulnerable — because it doesn’t actually own much of its content and therefore is susceptible to defection. Glam also specializes in display advertising, at a time when display ads online are seeing the most severe slowdown.
Despite the naysaying — and the deepening online advertising slowdown — Glam has continued its operations without major fallout so far. It has announced some layoffs, but nothing like the major cuts that other companies have announced.
At the core of its promise, Glam’s chief executive Samir Arora says, is Glam’s ability to offer advertisers better ways to target. That’s where AdaptiveAds comes in. So far, Glam has offered its own targeting technology on top of standard ad serving technology such as DoubleClick. Until now, Glam has let advertisers target subject category, choose where on the page they place the advertising (above or below the fold, etc) and to pick most popular times of day to advertise.
AdapativeAds takes his targeting several steps further. The San Francisco start-up, founded three years ago, gives advertisers more ways to target different times of the day, and also lets them target according to geographic region. It also offers advertisers the ability to do “creative versioning,” industry jargon for letting advertisers dictate a particular ad version for say, one geographic area, and then different version for a different geography (a phone carrier might use this, for example, to request a larger ad that shows more rate details in a geography where it has more coverage, and a smaller ad where it has less coverage). Finally, it offers behavioral targeting technologies.
At the end of last year, AdaptiveAds was rumored to be seeking to raise between $5 and $10 million from venture capitalists at a pre-money valuation of between $25 and $40 million. The company raised a total of $3.5 million across two rounds in 2006 and 2007 from investors including Draper Fisher Jurvetson and several angels.
A second offering of AdaptiveAds is that it allows Glam to move toward something called “adaptive optimization,” meaning it can monitor how well an ad is performing on certain sites, geographies and times of day, and then revise where the ads run according to how well they’re performing. The AdaptiveAds product will also help Glam with reporting and with tracking engagement.
Finally, it will let Glam offer a self-serve platform for ad agencies — by letting them buy multiple campaigns directly from Glam. Glam is creating a term for all this: “BrandWords.” A play on Google’s Adwords, Glam says it sees its BrandWords as a way to target display advertising more effectively, just as Google used Adwords to target search more effectively.
AdaptiveAds also has offices in Mumbai and Pune, India. An expected 20 employees will join Glam with the acquisition.
In December, Glam says it reached more than 100 million unique visitors globally.