In March of 2006 I was talking to Dave (aka Dillsmack) and off-hand I mentioned that I thought it would be cool if we built an advertising platform that allowed users to write their own ads with their own affiliate code. Within a couple days, Dave showed me ShoeMoneyAds. We opened this platform up, and invited as many people as we could while keeping reins on the hardware. Several hundred people used SMA in this incarnation for many months, with very few changes along the way. During that summer we were in San Jose for SES and some people mentioned that we should add an eBay component to SMA. A few days later Dave had fully integrated the eBay API into the SMA platform and we were serving eBay item ads with each user’s own eBay affiliate link. The system worked, but with no caching in place was not very scalable. That fall, at Vegas Pubcon (notice how much gets accomplished at these conferences) one of the great eBay affiliate program employees suggested that we build a sub-affiliate network using the ShoeMoneyAds/eBay technology. We thought that sounded cool but we were still killing it in the ringtone industry and put it on the back burner.
Fast forward to February of this year our revenue from ringtones was down about 300% and it was pretty obvious we needed to find something new to go after. We had plenty of capital built up from our own affiliate marketing so we could try a few things. I really liked the idea of starting my own advertising network using the eBay API. There were some key ingredients missing though that I needed to hash out before approaching Dave to build it:
1) Customer Service – We had never done any customer service. We are developers/marketers not customer service people. In fact we suck at customer service. If we were going to have our own advertising network we needed to figure out how to do customer service.
2) Payments – There is no margin for error when you’re playing with other people’s money. You need an accurate system, and the people in place to manage the payments.
So I talked to a good friend of mine, Patrick Gavin, who has years of experience handling both customer service and mass payouts from Text Link Ads and I pitched him the idea of AuctionAds. He was game to try it so he ran it up the flagpole over at Media Whiz and we went forward.
I then told Dave that I wanted to move forward on AuctionAds and explained the situation with Media Whiz how they were going to be a minority stake holder in AuctionAds and provide customer support and the mass payment knowledge. At this time I felt it was necessary to bring Dave in as an equal partner in AuctionAds. We structured it so that we both owned 50% each of the company that owned the majority of AuctionAds. This means whatever I made he made also. Dave has been loyal and with me for a long time and I knew it was going to be a ton of work for him on this and I wanted him to reap the same rewards as I would get.
Here we are, roughly one year later. AuctionAds has had arguably the biggest launch of any advertising network, ever. Over 25,000 publishers displaying 300+ million AuctionAds ads per day and all in only 4 months after launch. All the success was not without some growing pains though. We basically came to the realization that we had to make a choice: AucitonAds/ShoeMoney Media Group INC could bring in a staff of people, train them and all that (which we had ZERO experience in doing) OR we could sell the company to someone who already has tons of experience in that area and can take AuctionAds to the next level.
With that I am very proud to announce that today we signed a deal we have been working on for the past 15 days or so. Media Whiz is now the sole owner of AuctionAds. This adds another great advertising product to Media Whiz’s arsenal.
So what is in store for Dave and me now? Well, we have several things cooking 😉 Never fear.