Skyscrpr Looks to Simplify Advertising for Online Publishers

San Francisco-based Skyscrpr is launching a new tool to help simplify advertising for online publishers, by letting them sell directly to their advertisers instead of using a third-party service. It allows publishers to set, sell and manage their ad inventory by adding a snippet of JavaScript to their site. The company announced this week that it is joining Vancouver startup accelerator GrowLab, and will be launching a private beta of its service in the next month.

Founders Paul Burger, formerly the founder of Cargoh, and Jacob Reiff, formerly the founder of Wantist, came up with the idea based on the struggles they had monetizing their previous sites through advertising. “We’d both tried to monetize our previous sites with ads and deal directly with advertisers and publishers, and found a massive inefficiency in the way the two [types of] people communicate online,” Burger said in an interview. “There’s a wealth of tools that exist for premium publishers, Skyscrpr is aimed at the single person blogger that is making money off their blog.”

Skyscrpr attempts to make it easy for any small online publisher to have a professional advertising page and media kit, and access to a self-serve platform to sell directly to advertisers and manage inventory. Instead of listing an advertising email on their website and sending media kits as an email attachment, Skyscrpr provides publishers with a customizable advertising page with an infographic media kit. The infographic features customizable info about the site, and pulls in traffic and visitor data, either from publicly-available sources like Compete.com, or from the publisher’s Google Analytics account. It also pulls in information on social profiles, and testimonials from other advertisers.

In terms of the ads offered in the media kit, publishers can set their desired ad spaces and prices using a drag-and-drop interface. A publisher enters their URL, and they’re then able to specify where they want ads to be placed on their site (they can create this from scratch if they’re adding ads for the first time, or just make it compatible with existing ad spaces). They then set pricing for each ad space, either using a traditional CPM model (cost per thousand views) or percent of voice (aka 20 percent of voice means an advertiser’s ad will show up to one in five visitors).

Companies who want to purchase ads can then do so through a publisher’s automated media kit. They can view the different ads available, and select the ones they’d like to purchase, the length of time they want to run the ad for, and the pricing model they’d like to run. Once they’ve selected their ads, they upload their creative (or can work with the publisher to create custom creative), and pay via credit card. Before they check out, publishers also have the ability to offer additional items like sponsored Tweets, Facebook posts and blog posts for an additional price. Once an order has been completed, publishers are notified that an ad has been purchased, and they can either approve or deny it.

Rather than having to manually upload creative, Skyscrpr updates a publisher’s ad inventory in real-time, and automatically publishes an ad on the day the campaign starts. If a publisher has unsold inventory, they are notified and encouraged to hold promotions (25 percent off ads for the weekend, for example), or they can choose to run ads from Skycrpr’s internal inventory. All of the site’s inventory, whether approved, unapproved, or unsold, is displayed on a real-time visual dashboard.

Though the service will focus on helping design, DIY and parenting bloggers initially, they will eventually look to include other verticals including technology, travel and food. Though Burger said eventually they will target large publishers, they will stick with smaller publishers for launch. ”We definitely see it scaling up to much larger publishers,” he said. “We don’t see it as a tool that will remain for small bloggers.”

In terms of its pricing, Skyscrpr takes a percentage of all impressions served through both ads sold directly, and filled through the company’s inventory. Though Burger said they’re still finalizing the percentage, he said it will be “competitive” with similar ad platforms (he didn’t comment on whether they would take a percentage of any add-ons sold through the platform, like sponsored blog posts). Since the site has its own inventory of ads, Burger said they plan to add ad inventory marketplaces based on a publisher’s location and audience demographics. There’s no shortage of options for online publishers who want to manage their on-site advertising, from platforms like SAY Media that target larger publishers, to startups like Influads that target smaller publishers with a set-it-and-forget-it option. But for smaller publishers who want a DIY option, Skyscrpr looks like it can provide a comprehensive and customizable option.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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