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Turn.com Hopes to Challenge Google’s AdSense



A new ad network called Turn has launched, and it’s hoping to bring some sophisticated technology to the contextual advertising space.

With $18 million in VC backing and more than 1,000 advertisers and 30 publishers already in place, Turn offers a unique twist on a channel that is dominated by Google’s AdSense.

According to the Turn website, here’s what they believe sets them apart:

  • Automatic targeting. Whether you’re an advertiser or publisher, all you have to do is submit your ad or URL. Turn will automatically analyze it and select the most relevant and effective placement. Turn eliminates the complexity of manual targeting and managing keywords and bid prices with technology that automatically selects the best graphical or text ads for any placement.
  • Blended targeting. Turn uses sophisticated algorithms to blend more than 60 relevance variables rather than just one or two, the common practice of most networks.
  • Bidded CPA pricing model. Turn lets advertisers pay only for the actual performance they want.

I’ll sign up and see if they live up to the hype.

Via John Battelle. Techcrunch adds their thoughts.

  • http://www.swaggerjackin.com Jason

    Umm… Aren’t those the same features that AdSense uses? I mean I could be mistaken but I am pretty sure that AdSense prices are determined by bid. There is almost nothing manual about anything that Google does and I am quite certain they use complex algorithms for everything including deciding who gets to be coffee runner for the day.

  • http://zetangole.com panda

    Actually, no. Google requires you to select keywords. I believe what turn.com claims is that the matching is fully-automatic. I have to admit that the keyword selection process is rather frustrating with Google (for non Goliaths like me) and I’m quite glad that someone, finally, agrees with me. The other thing I like about turn is that I don’t have to pay unless someone actually buys my app. Which means I won’t have to worry about fake clicks from Eastern Europe, which I believe ate up my entire AdSense budget last time.

    I’m looking forward to advertising on Turn and I hope there’s more networks like this.

  • http://www.swaggerjackin.com Jason

    I misunderstood what was being said about the bidding. I thought it said there was bidding being done but after reading again I realized that there was no bidding for the keywords.

    I think Turn has some good ideas. The option to select how much you are willing to pay depending on what the user ends up doing at the site does have me slightly concerned about tracking peoples movement across the web. I know that Google lets the user go, or at least claims too, once the user reaches the advertisers site. So it will be interesting to see how this works out for Turn. Though I do know that advertisers will be willing to pay alot more for clicks that actually make purchases.

  • http://zetangole.com panda

    Yeah. It’s really cool. Personally, I’m not so worried about the people-tracking mechanism. As an advertiser, I think I would just reassure my customers that all that the network does, practically, is get informed by the advertiser when a sale happens. BTW, (I just posted this on a different blog site as well), since my last post, I signed up as a Turn advertiser and I’m pleased to say it only took me 4.5 minutes (as compared to the over 50+ minutes it took me to understand AdSense keyword selection, etc.)

    -P

  • http://worcester.typepad.com/pc4media Peter Capua

    I went through the process of setting up an ad. But, I stopped short of inserting the code. Looks very easy. Wanted to speak to someone before I went through with inserting the tracking code into our application. But, it seems like a no brainer for an advertiser to use Turn. The question will be whether enough publishers join the network to provide enough of the right inventory for a specific advertiser’s product. We’ll see, I guess. I’d really like to see it work though. Affiliate advertising doesn’t work for us because our offers (registration for events) are too time sensitive. Adsense doesn’t work because it requires too much time and expense to optimize the ads for such a short window.

    Any update, Andy?

  • http://hashthyself.com panda

    Hello Peter

    Yes, setting up for advertising with Turn.com was indeed easy. I had exactly the same question as you when I signed up – Basically I wanted to see one my ads in action and was curious to know what Turn’s publisher network was like. But I signed up anyway and sent my question to the email address on the contact page (advertisers@turn.com). I’m pleased to say that one of their accounts managers responded personally and promptly to me. Unfortunately for me, they would not divulge the exact details of their publisher inventory. But I guess this is understandable, since this is competition sensitive data. I was assured that their network has a large number of high-profile publishers with popular websites. Also, I was told that they would soon have an interface to show me a sample web page with my running ad so I can see what my potential customers will see. Overall my experience thus far has been overwhelmingly positive despite lack of visibility into their process.

    That said, I agree with you that time-sensitive ads such as for you could fare much better if you were allowed to choose or suggest destinations in the interface since (I’m guessing) you can’t afford trial-and-error here to see if your ads are being seen by the “right people”. On the other hand, however, you’d have nothing to lose with affiliate advertising since you won’t pay per click or impression, but only upon completed and submitted regos. From this perspective, (someone from Turn should correct me if I’m wrong), I think Turn is working very hard indeed, to ensure that their automatic targeting routes your ads as well as possible.

    -P

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I’m not sure if I’ll have time to test it out, with PubCon on the horizon. I do believe that ad networks will have to become more transparent about their publisher network as advertiser get more options.

  • http://worcester.typepad.com/pc4media Peter Capua

    I don’t see why turn wouldn’t reveal their publisher network. If I knew that publishers have endorsed this, I’d tell my publishing partners to use Turn. And If I knew that x-local publisher was using it, it’d make it easier to get y-local publisher to use it. Why not encourage their advertisers to solicit publishers for them?

    Why is keeping it private a competitive advantage? The competitive advantage will be the number of transactions occurring and the ability of their algorithms to maximize eCPM for the publisher by serving the right CPA ad.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    In my experience, a network doesn’t reveal their publishers, if they either don’t have a large network, or some of the publishers are third-rate.

  • http://hashthyself.com panda

    I think a lot of work goes into selecting and approving publishers. I know for a fact that Turn.com (maybe manually) screens publishers for “appropriateness of content” before they are inducted into their fold as potential ad destinations. Given this level of effort, I can see at least one reason why they choose to keep their list of publishers proprietary – to thwart their competitors from approaching these same publishers who have been “screened for free” by Turn.

    As an advertiser, I feel more reassured that my ads won’t appear on, for example, sites of questionable content. I believe this is also the reason why Turn does not yet have a publisher open beta – the screening process is pretty involved, as I should know myself (In doing my homework before signing up as a Turn advertiser, I tried to sign up a blog site as a publisher – and have not yet been approved.)

    &P

  • Barak

    I have a question on click per action-
    To which action the clicks are tied to. Can I define any proprietary action of my application in the web site?

    Is there an online demo of this application somewhere or we must register to see how ti works?

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Hi Barak, I believe you can define your own action, but I would contact them and ask.

  • http://www.emoze.com Oren

    I’m going to add funds into my TURN account today and test it with my online marketing budget this month. I’m still trying to understand who the publishers are and where my clicks will be coming from. It’s fraustrating trying to decide if I should invest in this ad network or not when they don’t give any indication as to who their publishers are…

    Anyone have any ideas? This would really help me make a decision.