Bringing Branded E-commerce to the Ad-Network Space

Media Morph: Tumri

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NEW YORK ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Tumri.
A Tumri ad pod
A Tumri ad pod

What it is: A start-up trying to bring branded e-commerce to the ad-network space. The idea is that by using traditional ad-targeting techniques and detailed information from e-commerce product databases, Tumri can push the right products to web surfers in ad units that let users click-to-buy. It's a twist on Google's AdSense, but with a direct e-commerce aspect.

Who's behind it: CEO Hari Menon, a serial entrepreneur, and Senior Director-Product Management Sundar Krishnamurthy, a veteran of Microsoft's ad division. It's backed by Accel Partners and Shasta Ventures.

The name: Tumri is a genre of Indian classical music.

Onboard: The biggest names in its distribution network are Excite in the U.K. and HowStuffWorks and in the U.S. The duo said they've signed up marketers such as Wal-Mart, Apple, Zappos, Overstock and Gamefly, and click-through rates are twice that of a standard banner ad.

How it works: Traditional contextual advertising works well at the bottom of the purchase funnel, Mr. Menon said -- car ads on a car-review site, for example. By taking into account factors such as online behavior, referral URLs, search history, site demos and geotargeting, he said, Tumri can reach shoppers at the top of the purchase funnel. Based on that data, Tumri calls up a product from an advertiser's online catalog that likely would interest the consumer. Mr. Menon calls it a push model, vs. the traditional pull model, in which a shoppers might browse e-commerce sites for what they want.

Big challenge: It's still small, at 150 million impressions a month, and it needs scale to increase relevance. (Mr. Menon estimates a couple billion would do it.) Today it launches a do-it-yourself publisher tool, akin to Google's AdSense network, that will allow small publishers to add the units to their sites easily.
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