Skyscrpr Launches to Help Bloggers Manage and Sell Their Own Ad Inventory

GrowLab-funded Skyscrpr launched its digital ad management platform today, aimed at bloggers and smaller publishers who want the process to be mostly automated and painless, but are interested in making more out of the deal than they can dealing with ad networks and big providers like Google. The startup offers a drag-and-drop interface for placing ads on sites based on major web publishing platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace, and provides ad sale reporting metrics as well as quick promotional material creation to help bloggers handle the hustling required to actually sell inventory as well as create and manage it.

Using the drag-and-drop interface, bloggers can easily drop in leaderboard, skyscraper and other standard ad sizes on their site and see how they’ll look without having to do any coding. Then Skyscrpr generates a line of Javascript users add to their site, and the ads they sell are automatically served in the positions they’ve set up. That’s admittedly pretty simple, but it’s only really a small part of the process of managing ad sales, and Skyscrpr is aimed at making the whole process a lot easier for individuals who’d rather focus on content and don’t have an ad sales team to back them up.

“Myself and my co-founder Jacob Reiff, we were both working on separate startups and both trying to monetize through advertising, and when we started to do that we wanted to do direct relationships with advertisers because we didn’t want to involve the networks,” Skyscrpr co-founder Paul Burger explained in an interview with BetaKit. “When we started to do that, we realized just how difficult it is to manage that inventory, and we’d had pretty deep connections to the blogosphere before that and it turns out the issues were pretty universal across most mid-sized bloggers.”

The problems Reiff and Burger identified were around three main categories: placement, sales and performance management. Once ad inventory is placed, via the process described above, Skyscrpr helps with the sales effort via automated media kits that allow advertisers to purchase inventory directly and also display all the salient information about a site that they’d need to know to make a buying decision, using information sourced from Klout, Twitter and Compete.com. Advertisers can buy inventory and pay directly through Skyscrpr.

Once inventory is placed and sold, Skyscrpr also handles monitoring their performance and reports on ad sales and ad performance via a visual dashboard. The idea is to streamline everything so that each individual part only takes up a fraction of the time it would if everything was being managed manually by the blogger or publisher. That’s a model that has big appeal to the smaller operations and independents that Skyscrpr is initially targeting, but Burger also believes there’s opportunity to scale the platform to larger volume businesses, too.

“We’re entering the market at this point because those are the people we can talk to, and that’s really sort of who we were,” he said. “But as we were building the application we realized that there’s obviously an opportunity to scale up to millions of page views, and that the problem exists right up the ladder. It definitely can scale.”

For now, use of Skyscrpr is free, but the team is currently evaluating what might be the best way to approach charging for its services (something the company was also working out when we profiled them pre-launch). Burger said they’re looking at a transaction fee based on ad sales, though they “haven’t yet nailed that percentage down.” He also anticipates a number of more sophisticated features on the horizon, including intelligent, automatic ad placement and more integrations with other publishing tools and media types including video down the road, so the startup could also end up offering tiered levels of service depending on a customer’s needs.

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