The rise of ad exchanges and audience-based buying strategies has led widget provider Clearspring to morph into an audience data company.
Clearspring distributes the AddThis sharing tool deployed by publishers that reaches 1 billion people. AddThis -- which facilitates content sharing across social networks -- is collecting reams of data on user interests, preferences and media consumption patterns. Now the company hopes to turn that into a new-style advertising play, only without actually showing ads.
Instead, Clearspring is opening up its data set to advertisers in an audience platform the company has tested since January. Agencies can use the anonymous information in order to inform ad buys made through demand-side platforms to find audiences via ad exchanges or audience aggregators.
Hooman Radfar, Clearspring's CEO, said the emerging display ad architecture, which is fueled by audience data, offers an alternative for consumer Web services that formerly had to consider ad networks as a way of making money.
"We realized the key differentiator for anyone in a real-time bidding environment is you have to know more about the person hitting an impression," said Radfar (pictured). "We thought we could help there."
One of the ways is finding influencers. Clearspring can identify users who share lots of content that generated interest in their social circles. It can also find "listeners," those who consume lots of shared content. Radfar said the technology could also tell the type of content consumed without any active sharing on the part of users.
Advertisers and agencies can access the Clearspring data in much the same way they use information from data markets like BlueKai and Exelate. Clearspring boasts data from pages with the AddThis widget loading some 60 billion times per month. (See also: "Exelate Gets $15 Mil. for Web Ad Data.")
"We have this treasure chest of data we just started mining," Radfar said.
Clearspring hopes to stay on the good side of publishers, which opt to include AddThis on their pages. It is pitching them to use the audience platform to mine their audience data in their own ad efforts.
"We're saying we can create new insight about the audience," he said. "We're going to add more value to publishers by letting them tap into the platform."
See also: "Big Money Bet on Display Ad Tech"