I’ve found this company popping up a lot lately. Their model is interesting and they seem to address an evolutionary problem in the paid search field. Industry Brains is essentially a pay-per-click network, like Overture or AdSense, but one that offers advertisers the ability to insure their ad is placed in specific vertical content areas, such as IT. The model basically asserts that there is value (and profit) in the voice and focus of an editorial site, as opposed to the unvariegated sweep of Overture and AdSense. This approach promises to raise the advertising revenues of niche sites which draw influential but smaller audiences. Such sites to date have not been able to make much of a go at it with AdSense alone.
The problem IndustryBrains solves sets up this way: Say you’re an advertiser interested in selling laptops to IT professionals. if you were to buy laptop-related keywords on AdSense or Overture’s Content Match, your ad could be placed anywhere on their vast networks, as long as a site on that network has the keywords which trigger your ad. This leads to your laptop ads being attached to general interest news sites, or blogs, or literary sites which might mention laptops in a totally unrelated context (funny example here). When you buy IndustryBrains’ network, your ad will only be shown on sites like ComputerWorld, CNET, and, in a move that is bound to give them some serious geek cred, Slashdot. (I heard this through a reader and industry colleague who passed along an IndustryBrains announcement, I can’t find anything about it on their site or on Slashdot.)
This is a natural evolution in the paid search market. I’m sure it’d be pretty easy for Google and Yahoo to develop these kind of vertical buys (if they haven’t already). As soon as it’s proven that there’s money to made, they will. I certainly hope there is. IndustryBrain’s PPC pricing is above typical AdSense pricing, for good reason. They are delivering more qualified audience, which is the essence of what good publishing is about. The site even has a search tool that let’s you see the cost per click in real time for any search term.
If any of you out there have tried this, let us know how it went!