Mpire Drops Widgetbucks, Switches Strategy to Be All About Optimizing and Verifying Online Ads

It has certainly been a busy week in the online advertising sector. On Monday, Bellevue, WA-based BlueKai announced it had raised $21 million in Series C funding in its effort to help transform how companies use customer data to design ad campaigns. And Seattle-based ad technology startup AdReady has formed a partnership with Internet radio service Pandora, based in Oakland, CA, to help the company design and sell advertising to small and medium sized businesses.

Not to be outdone, Seattle-based Mpire is announcing today a major update to its relatively new ad-optimization technology, called AdXpose. The basic idea is to make online ad campaigns perform more effectively, while protecting brands from fraud and from appearing next to inappropriate content such as porn. The latest features of AdXpose include the ability to set smart, real-time alerts for when ads don’t appear where they should (geographically or demographically, say), and preemptive “blocking” that stops ads from being served when the placement violates the terms of the advertising contract.

But Mpire is about more than just its latest product offering. It has bigger ambitions beyond AdXpose, and has reinvented itself as of late. I recently got an in-depth tour of the company’s new focus and strategy. In the process, I learned a lot about the online advertising world—and where Mpire’s real opportunities are.

When I spoke with Mpire last April, then-CEO Matt Hulett had just begun to sell AdXpose to online publishers and advertisers. Back then, Mpire was known for its flagship advertising network, Widgetbucks. Hulett left the company in August to become an executive at RealGames. Since then, Mpire has focused solely on technology for optimizing ads and helping its customers—ad agencies, ad networks, publishers—monitor how their ads are performing.

Mpire’s chief revenue officer, Kirby Winfield, sums it up pretty succinctly. “We are AdXpose. Widgetbucks is on life support,” he says. “Now it’s about [ad] verification and optimization. We want to … Next Page »

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