Most full-time bloggers know that adsense is great but it’s tough to live off of when it’s your sole source of revenue. Sponsorships and the ability to sell direct/static advertising play a key role in the overall monetization strategy of a full-time blog.
Matthew Anderson and his startup Adproval have come up with a platform for bloggers that they claim is the easiest way to sell and manage sponsorships. Rather than setting up a blind network like adsense, NetShelter or even Say Media, Adproval lets bloggers sell their sponsorships to advertisers or sponsors that they approve of.
Adproval lets bloggers combine the power of traditional display advertising with other add-ons like sponsored posts, product reviews and social media.
Adproval lets bloggers manage their blog’s sellable inventory in ways that they couldn’t before. The idea for Adproval came to Anderson as a senior project in his last year at college. Now the project has gone from simple business plan to actual product.
Breaking up with a college girlfriend led to the idea for Adproval. How? We asked Anderson who said:
“Well. Funny story… I dated a sweet Chinese gal in college and, right after we broke up, a ridiculous amount of the ads showing up on Facebook and around the Internet were for things like “Find Single Asian Girls.” Not only were Facebook and AdSense kicking a dude’s broken heart while it was down, but they were creeping me out. Then, I was on a DIY crafting blog and an ad along the lines of “Meet Asians Near You” was displaying in the sidebar. It kind of clicked to me that (1) there is no way that this blogger wants that ad showing up to their readers and (2) there is no way that ad space on a niche blog with a relatively small amount of faithful readers is making as much money with an ad for Lonely Asian Girls or whatever AdSense was showing other readers as it could with an approved advertiser that the blogger could support with more than just a display ad.”
Check out the rest of our interview with Anderson below.
What is AdProval?
Adproval helps bloggers make more money in less time by streamlining the process of direct buying and selling of ad space and other sponsorships. By combining other sponsorship sales (such as a featured post about an advertiser, product review, social media love, etc.), bloggers are able to give a story and voice to display ads, making them more valuable advertising outlets.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
A blogger sets up their sponsorship offerings, such as available display ad space, product review offerings, featured post opportunities, giveaway programs, and more. They can price these offerings individually or in sponsorship bundles that are all featured in a customizable Ad Store.
The display ad groups and Ad Store are easily embedded on their blog through one line of code each. The Ad Store on the blog acts essentially as an interactive media kit that allows advertisers to choose the sponsorships they are interested in and send offers to the blogger directly from their blog. The blogger receives these offers and can either approve or reject. If they approve, since the code to manage their display ads is already on their blog, ad images are automatically displayed for the set amount of time, payment is automatically transferred to their account, and their relationship and extra sponsorships are managed through their Adproval dashboard.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I (Matthew Anderson) am the sole founder. I’m a fresh graduate of Indiana University where I triple majored in business stuff. I interned for a wealth management firm in London long enough to know that wealth management was not the career for me, and no one really wanted to hire me coming out of college for the jobs that I was interested in.
I’ve had the idea for Adproval for about a year and a half and it became somewhat of a senior project for me in my last year of college. This helped me flush out the business plan under the great guidance of quality professors, many of which had been through the startup process successfully themselves. I have been building Adproval with quality talent in Indianapolis since graduating. Most recently, I have contracted Remora Studio – a top notch two man design and development firm that has worked on quite a few startups before. Together we form a full time trio of a dedicated designer, developer, and hustler making things tick.
Where are you based?
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Underestimated, and I think we like it that way. It provides an underdog mentality and extra drive for a lot of talented people excited to build a good name for a great City. We have a lot of great new initiatives propelling the Indy startup scene, driven by a good mix of seasoned businessmen, young go getters, and a pool of excellent technical talent.
How did you come up with the name?
Approval based Advertising = Adproval.
What problem does Adproval solve?
Bloggers are beginning to realize the benefits of truly direct ad sales and are doing it on their own, but this means back and forth emails to establish and build relationships, find a common payment channel, gather and upload ad images, and collect payments. They have to do this every month with every sponsor that they have. We streamline this process to save bloggers time that they can invest back into their blogs. Furthermore, by combining display ad sales with other sponsorships, we allow bloggers to make the most from their advertising and sponsorship sales while maintaining complete control over the content of their blogs.
What’s your secret sauce?
Our secret sauce is the ability of a blogger to use their voice to support their advertisers with different types of sponsorships. Display ads are losing their effect on consumers, with more and more consumers wanting a story from their advertising. Bloggers are in a unique position to be able to use their voices – by means of a featured blog post, product review, etc. – to provide a story that supports a display ad, resulting in the highest value for the advertiser and the blogger.
Either that or Sweet Baby Ray’s.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
Mostly bootstrapped up to this point, with a founder investment, loan, and F&F investment. We are currently pursuing a round of Angel funding.
“Investors? Possibly you!”
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Learning to leave our developers alone and let them build things. Early on as a coveted “non-technical founder,” I had a tendency to hover over the shoulders of the technical members of our team. I learned quickly how much that cramped their style and made us less productive. As much as I wanted to be involved with every step of watching “my baby” grow, I’ve enjoyed learning how to work best with developers and designers and have enjoyed building a high level of trust among our team that allows us to get the most accomplished.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
My dad and grandpa and great-grandpa were all entrepreneurs and all-around good guys. They have been great examples for me, for which I am very thankful.
What’s next for Adproval?
Raise a little more money and continue to improve, collect feedback, add cool new features, and grow. Early signals since we have been live suggest a good future for the company as long as we stay on our grind.