AdBrite: Trash or Treasure?

AdBrite has been around awhile, they’ve been conventioning and promoting and press releasing, trying to grow their brand and their business and I have always been a sucker for testing a new platform. You just never know when you’re going to find that 2nd or 3rd tier platform that turns into a gold mine.
Previously I had taken them for a spin on an affiliate site as a publisher, just to see if I could find another source of income by the pennies other than Google AdSense for automatic ad serving. (Not the kind where I go out and get the banners and apply to affiliate programs, looking for the minimum amount of maintenance needed here.)
The site I placed the AdBrite code on was for crafting parties. Parties that people throw with a planned craft activity. The ad that showed up in my 300×250 space was a very nice looking young lady with an ample busom and long flowing black hair. She was selling a pheramone cologne spray. As you can image how that was relevant to the content of my site or it’s audience was lost on me. So I asked via email (there is no phone support) how this was possible. I was assured in a canned email response that they do their best with targeting, are always increasing their relevancy capabilities, etc;
Well that gave me the answer. I pulled the code and dropped in AdSense instead. Case closed. I realize that they might not just have had the inventory for so narrow a niche, but was that really the most relevant ad that could be placed on site like that? Was there nothing else, like maybe an ad from Best Buy or Target that couldn’t be popped in there?
But what if you’re that advertiser selling the cologne spray? How are things working on that end?
Recently AdBrite recently launched a CPC based pricing platform along with their regular CPM platform, in an attempt to attract more advertisers who shy away from that CPM option. And I can see why, I had the misfortune of finding out what happens when an account runs wild on CPM. The CPC option only works though, if the publisher signs up for it. Otherwise, it’s good ol’ CPM still.
A client asked to have banner space on a specific site. This site used AdBrite to serve that ad space. No problem, AdBrite had this nifty interface that walked you through how to advertise on that site specifically in a matter of a few clicks. I was highly pleased with how easy it was and how I didn’t have to set up another account because I had a company account from the Publishing side. I entered the client’s credit card, set a low daily budget ($20) for the initial test and let it go.
I waited several hours to see that the ad was no longer pending and was instead running. That never came, so I went home. And for the Thanksgiving weekend. When I returned on Monday I found that the account had not only began running the intended ad, but an inactive campaign from 2006. And racked up $500 in charges for a client that was no longer a client on another client’s card. (Try saying that 3 times fast.) Needless to say I was appalled.
Immediately I flew into damage control mode, turning things off, trying to figure out what happened and what went wrong. I emailed support, which of course in a situation like this, you want a live person. I happen to luck out and have the card of a person in AdBrite from one of those conventions who I called since calling their main line just circles you around in a sea of frustration. She promised to walk over to the Customer Support department and talk to the manager.
This eventually helped because as I argued back and forth with canned email responses for several days, I finally got one person who was able to solve the issue and refund the $500. I told him because of his actions I would continue using AdBrite and what could have been a very ugly (and loud on my part) situation turned out positive largely in part due to him.
So what happened?
Apparently back in 2006 we had an unpaid balance of $51 due to a client’s expired credit card. I had no idea that this balance existed since it was nowhere in the interface, billing summary or on any invoices on file online. So when I added the new credit card the system automatically charged that card the balance and began running any campaigns that were paused due to that balance being owed. But the processing took so long that I never saw this action take place.
When I looked in the “paused and finished” section of my dashboard, I did see that errant campaign. But because it was either “paused” or “finished” I took that to mean that it would remain inactive in a paused or finished state. When I added the new credit card there was no mention, pop up or email regarding that outstanding balance either, it just very slowly took off.
Nasty surprise.
So is AdBrite trash or a hidden treasure? They could be a treasure, they’re not trash, but they have some serious interface and serving issues to face first. It’s not that I expect them to be as targeted, robust or have an inventory like Google, but I do expect that if I am paying for a service that I receive more than a canned response and accurate information regarding that billing and payment. I really did like how easy it was, the actual CPM/CPC rates are great and they do have a large inventory of publishing sites.
They just need to polish it up a little.

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