AdbyMe Raises Half Million for Controversial Social Advertising

October 1, 2011

12:00 pm

AdbyMe just announced US$500,000 in investment by Stonebridge Capital for a controversial idea: social advertising, where users create ads to share with friends.

“We’re trying to focus on crowdsourcing creativity,” says cofounder Josh Kim. “People can actually join the system.”

AdbyMe’s first round of funding is small compared to the $300,000 in sales it reported for the first half of 2011. Still in beta, AdbyMe lets you browse advertising campaigns and see ads crafted by others. You can then republish an ad or write your own with a unique link to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Me2Day, Korea’s Twitter. AdbyMe takes 50% of the revenue, giving 10% to the copywriter and 40% to the sharer. Sharp writers have the opportunity to earn even more when advertisers select them directly for campaigns.

For advertisers, AdbyMe tracks data on the number of slogans created, impressions, click-through rates, unique visitors and their location, and other metrics. But they count impressions as number of followers or friends, which may not be accurate; tweets are easy to miss, and Facebook posts can be missed or hidden.

AdbyMe is hoping to learn from beta testers in the United States – “the world’s most experienced social media users” and home to competitors MyLikes and celebrity-endorsement platform Adly. But, partly to avoid that competition, they are focusing sales on Asia, Kim says; the service launched in Korea in January and expanded to Japan in August.

Relying on users to bug followers with ads may seem problematic, and Kim recognizes this. “We worry about that,” he says, when I bring up the issue. But they have several strategies to handle it. On Twitter, users cannot post consecutive ads and must have 3 tweets between ads. All links start with adby.me, so others can recognize the post as an ad, Kim says.

I’m not sure adby.me is clearly an advertising URL, but the company has an additional precaution: after users click a link, it occasionally loads a webpage asking if you want to continue to an ad. As more users click no, that page comes up more often for a particular link. Kim also thinks that smart users won’t spam their followers with ads.

AdbyMe took second place at This Week in Startups Seoul, so you’ll see them at LAUNCH Conference in the United States in 2012.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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