Medialets Launches Invite-Only Buying Platform for Mobile

Medialets Private Marketplace consolidates buying process

Mobile rich media ad platform Medialets is getting into the matchmaking business.

In an announcement today, the New York-based company said it is launching Medialets Private Marketplace, an invitation-only buying platform to connect advertisers with the Web’s top mobile publishers.

Unlike an ad network that manages the entire buying process, precluding relationships between buyers and sellers, the new marketplace encourages direct relationships between advertisers and publishers. But, Medialets said, its platform makes it easier to maintain those relationships and simplifies the operational aspects of buying inventory across several premium mobile Web properties.

Eric Litman, CEO of Medialets, said the marketplace grew out of its more than three years of experience helping publishers and advertisers deliver rich media campaigns to mobile devices.

“There’s just an enormous amount of complexity for an agency that’s working on razor-thin margins to manage multiple publishers on executions, particularly in emerging media,” he said. In an ever-changing mobile landscape, in which companies frequently update apps and mobile websites, he said, it’s very difficult to get up-to-date information about mobile ad inventory.

Medialets’ new platform aims to give advertisers a single destination for discovering, buying, executing and measuring mobile advertising, while giving publishers an opportunity to get their inventory in front of brand advertisers in an environment that doesn’t commoditize its value. For providing the infrastructure, Litman said Medialets will take a small transactional fee that will vary on a customer-by-customer basis.

“While brand dollars tend to want to go direct to big publishers, sometimes the dollars will go to a network, not necessarily because the agency likes the inventory or believes in the value of the targeting (in some cases those are true),” said Litman. “But, often, it’s just because it’s operationally a lot easier to pick up a phone and call an ad network and have them manage the complexity of the execution.”

On the site, publishers can list detailed information about available mobile inventory (both static ads and rich media), as well as define pricing on a per agency and volume basis. If the publisher already has a relationship with an advertiser, it could include previously negotiated pricing for that buyer. For advertisers with whom it doesn’t yet have a relationship, it could leave the field empty so that the parties can set the price over the phone.

Litman declined to name advertisers and publishers participating in the marketplace at launch, but said it will include about 40 of the company’s more than 200 top-tier publishers. On its site, Medialets lists The New York Times, Fox, NPR and CBS News among the companies it works with. Advertisers invited to the marketplace include those in the top 2,000 global brands, he said.

“It’s really, really important that publishers and advertisers that exist in this ecosystem are appropriate representatives of the kinds of buyers and sellers that each of the other participants in the marketplace would want to be adjacent to,” he said. “This is meant to be a complement to a direct sales effort and not a competitive replacement.”

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