Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Using SSPs, RTB, and Private Exchanges to Reach the Independent Web at Scale


On Tuesday, September 20 Lijit’s CEO and Founder Todd Vernon had the privilege of speaking at Federated Media’s Signal Chicago conference. His presentation, titled “Using Supply Side Platforms, Real-Time Bidding, and Private Exchanges to Reach the Independent Web at Scale,” provides a brief overview of the latest technologies in online advertising.

In this session, Todd discusses the following:

  • How to use SSPs (supply side platforms) to source inventory
  • How brand marketers can use audience analysis to reach desired themes and conversations
  • How to expose audience and content segments to automated buyers
  • How to use audience futures to reserve media through private exchanges

Check out his quick, 10-minute presentation below. Enjoy!

How to turn your hobby into a business: lessons learned from Lijit publisher Kurt Kohlstedt


Longtime Lijit publisher Kurt Kohlstedt is the Founder and Executive Editor of Webist Publishing and Misnamed Media. His collection of sites include WebUrbanist, WebEcoist, Dornob, and Gajitz – which each have their own theme relating to creative, innovative, and sustainable art, architecture, and design.

Kurt is the quintessential mid-size Lijit publisher who has used online advertising to successfully transition his hobby into a business. Read on to learn how Kurt got his start and how he built his business using analytics and online advertising.

How did you get your start in the world of online publishing?

I was finishing my graduate degree in architecture and slowly began to realize that I was equally interested (if not more) in writing about design as I was in becoming an architecture professional. It was at that point I decided to give online publishing a shot as a full-time career. I built an audience by testing out various topics and found a nice balance between what I liked to write about and what people liked to read. I launched my first site, WebUrbanist, in the middle of 2007.

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Introducing… The New Lijit Weekly Stats Email!


One of the core pillars at Lijit is a fundamental belief in providing online publishers with “actionable analytics.” We use the term “actionable analytics” to describe the concept of giving publishers access to meaningful, easy-to-understand data that can be used to better engage your readers, grow your website, and make more money. It’s data that publishers can take action on.

This week we are rolling out a brand new, completely revamped weekly stats email that provides publishers with highlights on site performance and other relevant data. Every publisher using Lijit’s tools and services – whether it’s our ad services, analytics, or reader engagement tools (site search, reader widgets, etc.) – receives a weekly email customized to the type of tools and services deployed.

Only interested in ad services? Your weekly email focuses on what you care about – ad performance and revenue. Interested in advertising but still want analytics about your site’s audience? Your email has the best of both worlds because it combines ad performance statistics with audience data to give you a 360 degree view of your site. Layer on top any of our reader engagement tools and you also receive search and reader data to help you learn about your audience and keep them on-site longer. The more tools and services you have, the more data we provide!

The new weekly stats email complements your existing publisher dashboard, which contains more detailed information for publishers to drill down into specifics on ad performance, audience statistics, and search behavior.

Check your inbox this Sunday night and please send us your feedback!

Ad Tech Economics


The economic rules governing the advertising technology industry can seem a little counterintuitive when referring to pixels and cookies versus physical goods or financial instruments. Further, when it is as easy as installing a snippet of JavaScript on your page to start making money, companies can seem more like pyramid schemes than players in a fundamentally sound market. However, believe it or not, the advertising technology industry is governed by the same economics that govern most every other industry. And supply, demand, price, and quantity are some of the most fundamental economic concepts that can be applied to ad tech with just a little translation.

Ad “inventory” is essentially synonymous with “supply.” This is the available ad space on a website. Thus, publishers are the suppliers of the industry. And the price a publisher is willing to accept varies depending on content, seasonality, audience, location of the ad zone on a page, and many other variables. Considering the way that ad serving works, with an individual advertisement being passed from advertiser to network, to exchange, to SSP, to publisher, etc, this might seem backwards. But the best way to think about it is the way the money flows. Ad “inventory” is available for purchase, just like product inventory in a store or a warehouse.

On the other side is “demand.” “Demand” is essentially advertising spend. “Demand” by advertisers also varies based on seasonality, content, audience, etc. for the same obvious reasons. Where the supply and demand curves meet is the nexus we use to identify “price” and “quantity.” Of course, we, the ad tech industry, have our own word for “price” which is “CPM.” And we express the concept of “quantity” with terms like “ad traffic” and “fill rate.”

Once you boil the industry down to these fundamentals, it seems less populated with buzzwords and more with terms reflective of actual economic opportunity. Terms like “demand side platform,” “supply side platform,” and “ad exchange” make sense despite the fact that they sound more like they come from Wall Street than Silicon Valley or Madison Avenue (or Boulder, Colorado in our case). In fact, these terms are reflective of a healthy and fundamentally sound (although ridiculously dynamic) market with incredible economic opportunity for years to come.

Just take a look at LUMA Partners‘ Display Advertising Technology Landscape to get a sense for the sheer number of companies involved in this highly competitive and fast growing market:

The latest numbers from eMarketer estimate that the US online ad market will see dramatic growth this year with spending to increase 20.2% to $31.3 billion. eMarketer also predicts that by 2015, total US online ad spending will reach $49.5 billion, more than 58% higher than this year’s estimate. Now those are some ad tech economics!

Local artist gets lijit


Lijit has a strong local connection to the start-up tech scene in Boulder, CO; but we also support the great artists who live here and blog too. One such artist is Steve Lowtwait and right now he has just started on painting a very large scenic panting of Boulder for Whole Food’s recently renovated store.

The master blueprint

Steve commented that he needed a t-shirt or two from some local startups and Lijit was happy to oblige. We meet up as he was getting the first coat of paint down with a long ways to go. Now he can get down and dirty with local pride. Stop bye Whole Foods in Boulder and see the progress as it comes together over the next few weeks or check it out as he blogs it.

Laying down the first coat of paint.

Steve is Lijit

Using analytics to understand your audience, learn about your traffic, and make more money


As a marketer, I’ve used Google Analytics for years. The problem with Google Analytics is that it provides too much information… so much that very few people know what to do with it all. It often comes up in conversation with our publishers, and they all agree.

Lijit’s goal is to provide an easy-to-use alternative to Google Analytics so we held a roundtable discussion with 15 publishers to learn about the most beneficial data for their site. Everyone agreed that “actionable analytics” are what’s important. Publishers don’t want or need every last detail about their website and traffic. What they do need is relevant data they can use to grow their site and make more money.

The premise: the more you know about your audience, the more you can tailor your content to meet their needs. This engages your audience which helps increase pageviews and grow traffic. The more traffic to your site, the more money you can make from online advertising.

We have recently done a lot of work at Lijit to enhance our Audience Analytics and focus on what we refer to as “actionable analytics” – meaningful and actionable stats that help you grow and monetize your site. For those of you who may not know about all the data we provide, you can each log into your personalized dashboard depending on the type of Lijit services that you use. Data includes:

  • Audience demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, income level and education.
  • Advertising performance: stats on ad requests, ad impressions, CPM, fill rate, and earnings to help you optimize revenue.
  • Audience understanding: data on pageviews, geography, referring sites and searches, top posts, outbound clicks, and other sites that link to you.
  • Search intent: statistics relating to number of searches, top searches and last searches, top clicked results and last clicked results, and searches that returned no results.

For those using Lijit’s advertising services, an ‘Ads Today’ section provides trending data comparing the current day’s ad performance to performance one week and one month prior.

Check out the cool interface:

Search Dashboard

Ads Dashboard

To download Lijit’s Audience Analytics, click here. Please let us know what you think – we’re always looking for feedback!

Lijit publisher Tweety Got Back brings “sweet sushi” to Lijit!


At Lijit, we pride ourselves in the personal relationships we have with our publishers. We’ve been lucky enough to meet many of you in person and love to open our doors to locals and anyone traveling through Colorado who wants to check out our office.

This week, one of our local publishers, Tweety Got Back, decided to make the team at Lijit some special treats to say “thanks.” Tweety Got Back is a Twitter theme shoppe offering free backgrounds and themes. For all you publishers who use Twitter to promote your site, check out all the cool themes you can use!

As Rachel tweeted about these sweets she was concocting in her kitchen, we pondered what was going to show up at the office… cookies, brownies, cake? But what walked through the door were some of the most creative sweets we had ever seen. Believe it or not it was “sweet sushi,” made out of rice krispy treats and dried fruit. Needless to say, we ate them up!

Check out some of the photos below to see how beautiful they look, and thanks to Tweety Got Back for taking care of your friends at Lijit.

For those who want to make your own “sweet sushi,” click here for the recipe.

For a publisher, the network matters


What we’re working on at Lijit is a way to help publishers extract added value from being part of a network. Here’s how we see it:

According to Metcalf’s Law, a network’s value derives from the number of nodes that are connected to the network. Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). Metcalfe’s law was originally presented, circa 1980, not in terms of users, but rather of “compatible communicating devices” (for example, fax machines, telephones, etc). Only recently with the launch of the internet did this law carry over to users and networks as its original intent was to describe Ethernet purchases and connections. The law is also very much related to economics and business management, especially with competitive companies looking to merge with one another. For example, 2 telephones can make only 1 connection, 5 can make 10 connections, and 12 can make 66 connections (see graphic to the left).

In the web of online publishing, the notion of network value is under-exposed (forgotten even?) when it comes to individual websites.  Most of the “network effect” online remains confined to well-known examples like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and eBay.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  There is no reason that individual publishers or networks of sites of any size can’t benefit from being a node on the broader network and the associated reader, advertiser and traffic patterns.

Lijit leverages the aggregated network footprint of readers, search terms, demographics, brand advertisers, and a list of other important attributes.  We take that aggregated asset and then feed the network value back to each individual publisher or site.  This reflection of network value helps publishers simply: be better.  Write better content.  Curate more relevant things.  Uncover ways to engage their readers more.  And even make more money if that’s of interest to them.  Every offering we have is free to the publisher, simple to implement, and comes with no strings attached.  Publishers get value from it, or they vote with their feet and leave the network.

There are 5 primary categories of information that Lijit is providing publishers to help them gain crucial insights and actionable information. Information that they can use to make sites better, create or curate more engaging content, gain reader attention, and deliver better advertising that helps marketers reaches the right consumers.

  1. Comparisons: How does my site compare to other like sites?
  2. Trending: Are their macro trends that affect my advertising revenue?
  3. Indexes: Do sites like mine lag or exceed my peers?
  4. Intent: What are my readers looking or searching for?
  5. Engagement: How do readers engage into and with my content?

In each of the topical areas above the answer exists, or is amplified by, the networked connections between aggregation, comparison, and multi-site behavior of traffic, readers, marketers, social content, and reader expressions.

There does not exist a service today that helps publishers extract this understanding, much less value, from being a participant in the internet network.  Look for some exciting and innovative new tools, services and analytics from Lijit in the near future that provide added value to publishers based on the key ingredients of network and context. what do today’s consumers have to say?


To follow up on our last post, here are some interesting findings from forum. The consumer panel – including four consumers ranging from high school age to upper 20’s – provided a lot of interesting feedback on information consumption and sharing habits. Read on to see what our consumer panelists had to say…

Information consumption:

  • Nobody reads hard copy newspapers and very few read magazines; everyone goes online to find out news and information.
  • Every consumer has purchased at least one app for their phone and/or iPad. On average, tech-savvy consumers have 60+ apps downloaded to their phone but are only actively using 10-15.
  • When it comes to online advertising, brand perception isn’t affected if consumers see ads on a “bad” site; however, perception of a website’s quality is absolutely affected if the publisher shows poor-quality/irritating ads (e.g. pop-ups).
  • Very few click on ads but when they do, it’s contextually relevant advertising.

Information sharing:

  • 3b new photos are uploaded to Facebook each month but there’s a movement towards real-time photo uploads. Nobody had uploaded an entire photo album to Facebook for over six months.
  • High school kids use text and Facebook to communicate with their network, with 2x the use of text compared to Facebook. They don’t use LinkedIn and rarely use email (other than Facebook’s email platform).
  • An estimated 20-30% of high school kids use Twitter. When they do, it’s to post “random” comments and follow celebrities.
  • High school kids haven’t yet been exposed to Quora; young adults use it to find information but rarely, if ever, post questions or answers.
  • Young adults primarily use Twitter and Facebook for communication. Tech-savvy consumers are increasingly turning to Twitter to communicate because they are overwhelmed by the amount of “friends” and Facebook requests (e.g. Farmville).
  • Every consumer and almost every attendee has changed their Facebook privacy settings.

And for those of you who haven’t yet watched our video, enjoy! forum from Lijit on Vimeo. forum: presented by Lijit and Foundry Group


Yesterday, Lijit and Foundry Group hosted the inaugural forum. Based in Boulder, brought together the digital media industry’s top entrepreneurs and thought-leaders to discuss consumers, online advertising, and publishing. Click here for a full list of attendees.

The half-day interactive discussion included three panel sessions:

There were numerous insights from the forum that we’ll cover in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, check out our cool video with tons of interesting market stats. And here are some photos below. Enjoy!

Todd Vernon, CEO of Lijit; Seth Levine, Managing Director of Foundry Group; and Jeff Reine, GM of TypePad

Cali Harris, consumer panelist

Our fearless leader, Todd Vernon, moderating the publisher panel

Lijit's Todd Vernon and Walter Knapp walking to networking reception with Lijit Board members Mark Solon and Paul Berberian

Rajeev Goel, CEO of PubMatic, and Alex Vogenthaler, Product Manager at Google

Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group networking reception networking reception