Q&A with Adzerk founder and CEO James Avery about changing the online advertising ecosystem
Adzerk is a publisher-side online ad serving tool that offers a different approach from the ad network model. The Durham, North Carolina–based company recently raised $650K in seed funding.
SUB: What is the value proposition Adzerk offers to both advertisers and publishers?
Avery: Adzerk is purely a publisher side tool—we offer the tools and technology that publishers need to best serve their ad campaigns. Adzerk has a number of advantages over the current crop of ad servers. The first is that we have been rewritten from the ground up with current technology, it’s fast, never blocks a page from loading, and can scale on demand. The second is that we believe enterprise software should be more friendly, we don’t have monthly minimums or contracts—you just pay for what you use.
We don’t sell directly to advertisers—but advertisers can use the Adzerk platform to view reports and work with publishers who use the Adzerk platform.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Avery: Our primary competition is OpenX, Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers, AOL’s Adtech, and Real Media 24/7’s OAS.
SUB: What differentiates Adzerk from you competitors (or from those offering similar services)?
Avery: Adzerk is built on the latest technology and we plan on innovating very fast—most ad servers have been stagnant for the last decade as all of the innovation happens in 3rd party services or ad networks. We are also building a friendly enterprise software company—we don’t require contracts, monthly minimums, or have overly complicated pricing schemes.
SUB: How are you marketing your services?
Avery: We find and reach out to potential customers directly as well as by attending industry events. You can also expect some more value-added marketing efforts in the future.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind Adzerk? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea longer in developing?
Avery: Adzerk was originally built as a proprietary system for a number of ad networks I was running. In early 2009 as I was trying to start a third ad network I realized that I should really be offering this software to other people who want to build networks instead of trying to build every ad network myself.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Avery: Adzerk first started back in 2007/2008 when I was running ad networks but wasn’t spun out to other publishers until 2010.
SUB: You recently raised a $650K seed round. How do you plan to use the funds?
Avery: The funds will pay for the continued development of the platform as well as building our marketing and sales teams.
SUB: Why was now the right time to raise outside funds?
Avery: The first half of the year we were running on funds from the sale of one of our ad networks in 2010—raising money let us accelerate our development and growth plans. We could have continued to grow while bootstrapping off of current revenue—but I feel like there is an opportunity here that we need to seize.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
Avery: I expect we will raise more money in the future—either later this year or early next year.
SUB: What has the biggest obstacle been so far to building Adzerk and making it what you’ve envisioned it to be?
Avery: The largest obstacle has been navigating all of the current conventions and limitations built into the current ad technology ecosystem—there are providers and servers we have to work with that were built in the ‘90s (which in Internet years is basically pre-historic).
SUB: What are your goals for the company over the next year? Where do you see Adzerk in about a year from now?
Avery: Our goal is to build the best platform for publishers and ad networks—in a year from now I think we will be much closer to that goal and have a host of new ad networks and publishers running on our platform.