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Quigo a Go Go

By - August 25, 2004

quigoSpent some time on the phone with Michael Yavonditte, the CEO of Quigo yesterday. I’ve been getting smart on many of the new innovators in the advertising space, both for my book, as well as for my other role as band manager of Boing Boing and whatever might come next. Man, there’s a lot going on in the online marketing space right now – a lot of innnovation, a lot of cool new shit, and a lot of potential.

According to Yavonditte, Quigo has perfected a relevancy algorithm that does AdSense one better – far better, to paraphrase his words. Quigo is focusing on picking off the high-brand-value publishers who use AdSense but are looking for a network solution that pays them more for what they believe is significantly better inventory than the lowest common denominator AdSense approach. Great quote: “Advertisers are saying to me ‘I don’t want the Guadalupe Times, I want ESPN!’” He’s already stolen some business – he’s got USA Today, National Geographic, the New York Post, and several others signed up, and reportedly has some major equity-for-distribution deals in the works, akin to what Google and Yahoo did in their early days.

While I am sure his algorithms are good, in essence, Yavonditte’s secret sauce is vertical categorization. He’s come up with a handful of major categories – Travel, Health, etc. – that advertisers self select into. Then he applies his contextual algorithm within that category, yielding what he claims are major improvements in CTR and PPC.

I’ve always suspected that Google will build vertical categories into AdSense, so I asked Yavonditte, given how exciting his claims seem to be, why Google won’t simply swoop in and verticalize AdSense. “I’m trying to build a $200 million business,” he responded. “Google needs to focus on finding the next billion dollar one.”

Yes, but…$200 million is a hell of a lot more revenue than, say, Orkut is providing at the moment…

Yavonditte is limiting his company’s focus to big and/or high quality publishers and big categories, for now, but he didn’t rule out scaling the business to AdSense like proportions. He’s also got a killer product in the works that – without tipping his hand too much – uses his algorithm to aid marketers make decisions about the right keywords to use for any given URL. Cool.

Quigo is nearly breakeven and has 70 employees, most of them in New York. They are backed by Bob Davis, of Lycos fame, among many others.

Marketing Vox interview with Michael here.

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4 thoughts on “Quigo a Go Go

  1. pb says:

    “Advertisers are saying to me ‘I don’t want the Guadalupe Times, I want ESPN!’”

    Wow, the big guys still don’t get it!

    Likewise, Yavonditte, doesn’t seem to get it when he says Google is only looking at billion opportunities. If you look at practically everything Google has done, only a few projects look like billion dollar opportunities. Google actually thrives on groups of 3-5 people pursuing $200 million opportunities.

  2. Quigo User says:

    Well… as a publisher that has used both Quigo and AdSense, I can state definitively that AdSense paid much, much, much better than Quigo. Perhaps it’s because the offering is still new, and they haven’t signed up too many advertisers, but the claims Quigo makes about higher targeted advertising leading to more money for publishers is not at all true in my case. The real issue is getting enough advertisers in to make it worthwhile, and it seems like Quigo isn’t quite there yet.

  3. Dear Quigo User:

    We launched the most recent version of AdSonar on June 26th. Since then, only publishers that are in selected verticals such as Health, Fitness, Education, Travel and Sports have been added.

    We didn’t begin using our own ad index until shortly after this date. Prior to this date and even currently, we’ve been beta-testing with the ad index of another company. Unfortunately, this company has low cost-per-click rates – much lower that Google and much lower than our new AdSonar index.

    The new AdSonar index provides yields which are 4-5 times greater than what you experienced beforehand, so I’d encourage you to come back and try the new AdSonar.

  4. stefanaccio says:

    Excellent regional search results for my wesite (http://www.angelfire.com/film/casale) using Quigo. Where were they two years ago when I needed them?

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