Not everyone is buying the idea that in this economy, performance-based ads are the place to be Brand.net, an ad net (another one) focusing solely on brand advertising, has raised a $10 million second round led by NorWest Venture Partners. Past backer InterWest, which led a $3 million round last year, also participated. Its total raise is now $13 million. I spoke with CEO Elizabeth Blair, a *Yahoo* veteran who left early last year, who said she "reads the articles" about the headwinds for brand ads, but that she doesn't buy it. The company is banking on a balancing out of brand and direct response ads, as well as the bigger, non-cyclical trend of brand ad dollars moving from traditional media to online. She said that in the company's experience, the "smartest" companies realize that in the long-term, it doesn't pay to pull back on brand advertising.
Meanwhile, unlike a lot of ad nets that go out and sign up publishers first, Brand.net is reaching out to large brand advertisers and agencies, helping them come up with campaigns that reach a achieve a certain goal. COO Andy Atherton, another ex-Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) (four of the six key personnel came from Yahoo), explained that since its clients campaigns are worked out in advance, they can afford to sign up the advertiser first, and then go out and find the right publisher after words.
The San Mateo, CA-based company hasn't released data on who they're working with, but they say they have half-a-dozen of the top 20 blue-chip advertisers, and already hundreds of publishers in the network.
By Joseph Weisenthal