Interview With Sean Rad, CEO of ad.ly

adlyI recently had the chance to have a few words with Sean Rad from ad.ly, an advertising service for Twitter. Ad.ly describes itself as “an in-stream advertising platform that matches top-tier Twitter publishers with top-tier brands”. In short, ad.ly connects big brands with the biggest Twitter accounts on the web, and allows brands to propose advertising to the top publishers. Some of their publishers are TechCrunch, Kim Kardashian, Newsweek and Gossip girl, and some of the brands are NBC, Sony, Microsoft and Universal. Reports have indicated that Kim Kardashian earns up to $10,000 USD per tweet.

One of the earliest companies to facilitate Twitter advertising, ad.ly was started in Los Angeles in September of 2009 with a round of funding from GRP partners. The company is constantly improving its product offering by improving its ad.ly dashboard, where publishers and advertisers can see how their adver-tweets are faring. The dashboard displays the number of clicks and retweets, and also looks at the geographic location of retweeters. ad.ly is working on more advanced targeting to help better connect brands with Twitter followers.

I had a few questions about ad.ly, and fortunately Sean Rad, the CEO of ad.ly was able to answer them late last week. The interview is below.

ST: How do you select the Twitter users that can support advertising?
SR: Anyone on Twitter from a celebrity to an average user can sign up for Ad.ly.

ST: Do you have any plans to enhance the current advertising method of one tweet per day?
SR: Our latest release removed the limit and replaced it with a pricing algorithms that incentivizes publishers to only approve ads that are relevant to their audience and penalizes publishers from inserting too many ads

ST: Are there any features you’d like to see in Twitter that could help the advertising game?
SR: Any expansion of the data that Twitter already offers the development community would be great.

ST: What’s an example of a surprising success story on ad.ly?
SR: We’ve experienced that most of our ads get retweeted by a publisher’s audience, but for one campaign we saw 30 paid tweets generate about 10,000 organic tweets/retweets.

ST: Are there concrete examples of advertisers gaining sales or traffic out of ad.ly traffic?
SR: Yes. We have ran thousands of ads for today’s largest brands which are seeing an average click through rate that ranges from 1%-3.5%.

ST: Do you use a custom tracking and reporting package? What are some features that we can expect in the future?
SR: Every advertiser is presented with a dashboard that enables them to gauge the success of their campaign. They can see click through rates for the entire campaign and drill down to see click through rates for an individual publisher in the campaign. We expect to add other performance metrics, other than clicks/CTR, in the coming months.

ST: Do you have plans to expand your idea to support Facebook Fan Pages or other social networks?
SR: Not at the moment.

ST: Can you give us examples of cost per message, or cost per clicks averages for your service?
SR: Prices vary from publisher to publisher. Our cost per tweet ranges anywhere from one to five figures.