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Digital Dealmakers: Amir Ashkenazi

May 14, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The player: Amir Ashkenazi, CEO and founder of Adap.tv.

The play: Adap starts with the premise that consumers don’t like watching 15- or 30-second pre-roll ads before their online video. As an online video advertising network, Adap has developed technology that lets online publishers and video sites include contextually relevant ads that are brief and unobtrusive. The company is launching its service this week via partnerships with online video site Metacafe, online video technology firm thePlatform and advertisers Amazon.com and Shopping.com.

The pitch: Here’s how Adap works. Adap analyzes the online video by using many technologies, including speech and text recognition, to determine the content of each video. Then Adap overlays relevant ads on a small portion of the video screen while the video plays. If viewers click on an ad, they are linked to related products. For instance, Adap might pair an online video on Italy with DVDs and books from Amazon about traveling to Italy. “We have a deal with Amazon that gives us access to all the Amazon inventory and we have a deal with Shopping.com that gives us access [to information] from more than 5,000 merchants. We are starting with a group of advertisers that are transaction advertisers who are most interested in converting shopping into purchases,” Mr. Ashkenazi said.

The ads are user-friendly because they are small, don’t interrupt the video and only appear on screen for a few seconds.

In the mix: Adap strikes deals with online video destinations, which use the technology to provide tailored ads in their video; with technology providers, who can incorporate Adap into the tools they offer partners; and with advertisers themselves. The online video sites select the type of ads and the frequency with which they run in the content. Adap can also analyze the ads that are most effective so online publishers can refine and tweak their ads.

The backstory: Mr. Ashkenazi founded Adap in late 2006, bringing in folks he had worked with at Shopping.com. They worked from a “conference room” in the back of a Starbucks in Burlingame, Calif., until they moved into official offices in San Mateo, Calif., in February.

The money guys: Adap raised an undisclosed sum from Gemini Capital in February. The company shares the ad revenue with the online video sites.

The pros: Adap is entering the online video market during a time of intense consumer frustration with pre-roll video ads and is poised to provide a better mousetrap.

The cons: Adap will need to move fast to cut deals with online sites, which are also starting to develop new ad forms online.

Background: Mr. Ashkenazi was born and raised in Israel and moved to the United States in 1999. He studied computer science and economics at Tel Aviv University. Prior to Adap, he was a founder and chief technology officer with Shopping.com. He is 36 and lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and two children.

Who knew He plays Israeli music and beginner tunes on his guitar for his kids.

16 Comments

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