How E-mail has Entered the 21st Century

If you’ve only just entered into the world of online advertising, you might never have come across the challenge of buying and selling ad space on particular websites. Today we’re used to programmatic ad buying and targeting users based on their behaviour rather than making assumptions on which kind of websites our potential customer might visit.

Back in the day, websites had to sell their ad spots on their websites. People had to call up potential clients and convince them, that their particular visitors were in the right target group for a specific brand.

For the sake of the example, let’s say you had a company called Shoes and you were trying to sell, well, shoes. To boost your online sales, you wanted to advertise online. You’d been contacted by a company called Newspaper, that ensured you, that their readers of the Fashion section would fit your target audience perfectly.

Now, this might not sound as such a bad idea, right? Yet, you were buying ad space and paying for views that included everyone from 12 year old Louisa looking for general inspiration after searching for “cool fashion trends 2007” to 92 year old Karl who’d clicked a link called “How to be a fashionable senior”. All the while your ideal target group was 25-40 year old business professionals.

The struggle didn’t end there. Once you’d found the somewhat right platform to advertise on, you had to make sure all the ads had the right format, which might’ve been different from one website to the other you were advertising on. This meant that your graphic designer had to reformat the ad. There were no agreed upon standards.

Then there was the process of implementing it on the website. You had to send your ads to Newspaper, who then had to access the HTML, paste in the link to the file in the right place and add all the relevant links – hopefully including the right tracking, if you were clever enough to do at least a bit of analysis.

Everyone agrees that the programmatic ad approach is far more effective and since the dawn of ad exchange and display networks, we’ve never looked back.

What is Programmatic Ad Exchange?

Today you can set up a list of rules of the kind of people that you’d like to target. This includes their interests, their demographics, their behaviour. You gather all this information in one place and buy ad spaces based on the kind of people you want to target rather than the ad spots that you assume is right. The programmatic system automatically place your ad where it is most relevant for the actual users. This means that Newspaper’s visitors might see a range of different ads on the website based on who they are and their previous behaviour.

This has been the way to buy display ads for about ten years and with the comprehensive information gathered about the users over the years, it’s a thriving way to place ads. It’s all anonymous and based on cookies.

Retargeting is One of the Most Effective Tactics

You might’ve seen it yourself. You search for flights to Dubai and suddenly, every website is overflowing with cheap flights and hotel suggestions in Dubai. It might be kind of annoying but it is also very efficient. Imagine if Shoes could regain just a fraction of the actual relevant customers that had visited the website but left without finishing the checkout process.

Some retargeting ads are made so clever, that it includes the items of the cart before the visitors exited the site. Some marketing platforms tries to solve this with something called abandoned cart, but that means ensuring the visitor’s e-mail address and permission before they leave the site. Abandoned cart sounds good – and it can be, but for most marketers, the process is too comprehensive.

Why E-mail Hasn’t Kept Up

The old process of buying and selling ad space is still how it’s done in e-mail, which is why most brands struggle with commercialising their newsletters even if they have a lot of subscribers. Since you cannot target people using cookies in e-mail, e-mail has been out of the big programmatic game and had been forgotten for a while – it had even been deemed “dead” by some people.

However, e-mail has stayed strong in spite of its obvious downsides because it still manages to engage people far more than any other digital platform. Newsletters have survived because marketers can measure their effect and aren’t ready to let go of the income that comes from e-mail – even though it’s been a hassle from time to time and has taken up a lot of resources.

Some companies have also gone through the trouble of selling ad spaces in their newsletters, but they’d had to go through that whole process that I described at the beginning of this article: Analysing their users, canvas calling potential clients, making sure the creatives fit the space, pasting the ad in the right spot, linking to the right page and adding tracking to make sure they got credited for the click through.

Enter Passendo to Introduce E-mail to the 21st Century

So far no-one has managed to solve the problem with e-mail and as a result a lot of companies have given up on the thought of commercialising their newsletters and other e-mail dialog with their clients. This is about to change.

Three Danish entrepreneurs have finally solved the year old challenge and has built a platform that allows you to sell and buy ad spots in e-mail. This means that our fictive company Shoes and Newspaper no longer have to agree amongst themselves where the best potential clients are, they can easily buy and sell the spots that will be most effective for both of them.

One of their suppliers (could have been Newspaper) says:
“On top of the different ad solutions I can now offer my clients, I’ve been able to get rid of three other systems that we used to book ads with in our e-mail flow and newsletter. They’ve all been replaced by Passendo which means that I’ve been able to move a full time resource to other tasks.” – Allan Schou, VoresVilla

The trio Anders R. Rasmussen, Jakob L. Johansen og Andreas K. Jürgensen all come with a background in online advertising with various roles ranging from the tech side of things to communication. They realised that there was a huge gap in the market and ventured out to close it – and that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve already managed to get investors, clients, suppliers as well as DSPs on board and are now working on scaling it to reach out of Denmark.

If you’d like to be part of if, please contact Anders at +45 2968 0833 or

March 20, 2017 Denice Brun



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