L90 Aims to Boost Market Share Following AdForce Bust

In the wake of a major competitor’s collapse, ad network and technology firm L90 is aiming to snap up clients through a new advertising campaign and sales push.

Through new ads appearing on marketing- and advertising-related Web sites, the Los Angeles-based L90 is angling to spread the word about its ad server, adMonitor, as a host of publishers are suddenly shopping around. Earlier this month, CMGI announced that it was shutting down its ad server AdForce, effectively putting the firm’s client roster up for grabs.

“The campaign came out of what we are seeing in the marketplace,” said L90’s Mike Leo, who is president of the firm’s Technology unit. “What we wanted to do was let people know out there is that there is a choice.”

A choice, that is, that’s an alternative to the leading player in the field, DoubleClick’s DART. With a commanding market presence and growing influence among agencies, Alley-based DoubleClick’s DART for Advertisers product is a force to be reckoned with. And adMonitor, which Leo admits is a “relatively new product … compared to Engage, to AdForce and to DART,” is not as well known.

But L90 is sensing a break-through opportunity for the product, which is part of its ProfiTools suite of offerings — especially now that AdForce is out of the way.

“There are people out there making the move to L90,” Leo said. “If you take a look at its revenue over the last two years, you’d have a tough time saying adMonitor was the top-two player out there. But about $3 million in quarterly revenue just became available [through the AdForce closure.] And in the last week, we closed about 11 of those accounts — about a third of it.”

But according to sources close to the company, industry behemoth DoubleClick is quickly moving into AdForce’s old turf as well — a situation that L90 believes is simply due to customers’ confusion over which are the viable players in the field.

“People are nervous about signing on to an ad server,” Leo said. “Obviously, people have been nervous about AdForce for some time, and for good reason. Engage for similar reasons, being attached to CMGI. We’re finding that a lot of times people are signing onto DART simply because of a lack of choice. So we decided to put together the campaign main reason to let people know.”

“Right now there are two players, and both are financially sound,” he added. “People are looking at DART … but they’re also looking very strongly at adMonitor.”

As a result, L90’s new ad campaign is designed to differentiate adMonitor from DART, and to do so, the firm is taking the position that it’s more publisher-friendly than DoubleClick.

“There’s a publisher side and an agency side, and they’re very different in the core competencies that are required to help those particular clients win in their marketplace. On the marketers’ side, the core competency is data … it’s satisfying agencies. But … publishers’ core needs are different, about monetization and efficiency — how you can run an efficient organization so that you’re saving money and getting higher revenue per user.”

“That revenue side is a point of pain in the industry, and it is the reason why people are interested in adMonitor,” he said.

DoubleClick and competitors, meanwhile, have long maintained that they can service both advertisers and publishers equally well. DoubleClick touts its products as being “built with feedback from leading publishers, advertisers and merchants worldwide … they are designed to work the way you do.” The company also recently unveiled the latest version of DART, an upgrade that it said would allow publishers and marketers to more quickly and easily manage cross-media ad campaigns.

But as an example of how publishers’ needs are being unmet, Leo pointed to what he describes as competitors’ slowness to innovate by offering new ad products to sites.

“It’s been three and a half years since the [Interactive Advertising Bureau] approved banner ads. And DoubleClick just now offers new ad sizes — after the IAB approved them?” he said. “We come out with two or three [ProfiTools] every quarter, all monitization tools that help publishers make money.”

Accordingly, copy from the ads reads: “Is your ad serving technology costing you money … or making you money?” The tagline is “adMonitor — L90’s technology for business success.”

“Mainly, this is an awareness campaign,” he said. “We’re not looking for clickthroughs. We want to make sure people have a choice out there — that they don’t need a technology that just serves banners and .GIFs, but a monetization technology built especially for publishers.”

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