Ex-Fox Exec Barrett Lands at AdMeld

NEW YORK Michael Barrett, who formerly led Fox Interactive Media’s ad sales, has become CEO of AdMeld, a startup service that handles publishers’ ad network relationships.

AdMeld’s technology has been in testing for the past eight months. It takes in pricing data, inventory availability and rules defined by publishers to determine which ad network gets sent an ad impression. The idea is to choose the reseller that will make the publisher the most money with the least cost and effort to manage the network relationships.

A $7 million round of funding from Spark Capital and the Foundry Group backs the New York-based company.

Barrett, 46, left FIM in June after two years as evp, chief revenue officer. He led the News Corp. division’s effort to turn MySpace’s huge audience into a comparatively large advertiser business that competes with top Web portals. He spent four years as a top sales executive at AOL before joining MySpace.

The experience at MySpace, which generates billions of monthly ad impressions, convinced Barrett that publishers need a better way to manage the ad inventory not sold through the direct sales channel, he said.

“I come from a publisher-centric perspective,” he said. “We were working with over 27 ad network partners to monetize the unsold inventory. It was a laborious process. We had over 10 people doing it. It wasn’t pretty and we didn’t think we were doing a great job. We were leaving money on the table.”

AdMeld is one of a clutch of startups looking to help publishers better manage the many ad networks they use to sell leftover impressions. Others include The Rubicon Project and Pubmatic. Barrett said AdMeld differs from those in its focus on the top 150 publishers. Its beta clients included The Huffington Post and WorldNow, a collection of local media sites.

“It’s a terrific pain point and it’s not going away,” he said. “It appears there’s less sold inventory. It’s not a problem that’s going to solve itself anytime soon.”

Barrett assumes the top role that was held by AdMeld co-founder Ben Barokas, who will move over to chief revenue officer. Fellow co-founder Brian Adams is the 14-person company’s chief technical officer.

The use of ad networks will only grow for publishers, Barrett said, since the down economy will mean publisher sales forces will sell a lower percentage of inventory. Yet that won’t stop the reduction in the glut of ad networks, he predicts.

“There’s a lot of mouths to feed on the network side,” he said. “You’re going to see consolidation there.”