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When The Advertiser's ROI Becomes A Final Judgment

Friday's close gives Looksmart a Market Cap of just $12.53M.- And anyone who considers the Co is 'over-valued' down at these low levels (there are a few), must surely have rocks in their head. Certainly when considering that the Co had ended the 2012 year with $15.9 million in cash.

Looksmart are in with many other small Co's (and globally, they've had billions of $$'s invested in them), that are seeking a small yet profitable "share" of an ever increasing digital ad-spend.

Few AdTech Co's can boast they are making any real money outside of established big players, and led by Google. - While all are 'spending plenty' to create a 'unique formula' or, develop improvements that can assure them of a regular share of that total (growing), ad-spend.

In my previous post I expressed the feeling that operating expenses were now down to around the $2 million per quarter level. I'd also felt (with Comprehensive Revenues of say, around $3.0 to $3.5 million), a likely return to profitability won't be too far away.

This is in spite of the Co's uniquely independent search intent based marketplace (in the global ecosystem) being anything, other than an ongoing 'work in progress'. And in any assuming that Looksmart are actually adding more 'improvement/s' (to it's RTB AdCenter 'buy/sell' side offerings), becomes only a guess.

Targeting of Search Intent

To me, it has become a little comforting to read the following interesting comment to an AdExchanger article, and its from some-one who had actually departed from his CRO role at Looksmart, back in mid January.

Chris O'Hara says:
April 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

........."I was recently involved with a company trying to build a search retargeting technology that leveraged keyword-based search data & applied results to display inventory. The biggest challenge was that we knew SEM buyers demanded quality controls to prevent click fraud.

............They [the SEM buyers] trusted Google and other Tier One search clicks, but were not sure they were going to get quality when ads were delivered across display-based exchange inventory. ....After looking into quality control practices across a number of exchanges, we determined that there were no effective security measures in place to test quality at both query time and click time. That was a scary realization.

I hope we as an industry can solve this. Without strong quality controls in place, there is no way display will be able to eat into other channel budgets and exploit the "Meeker gap" in lost revenue opportunity, even as time spent in digital channels increases."

Chris' comment was to the above-linked article that's entitled "Display Advertising Fraud is a Sell-Side Problem" and he advises quality control is a concern for both search query & inventory, in some instances.

[Yet, for Looksmart buyers/sellers.] It's all happening in Real Time.

I'm wondering why there isn't more emphasis made on the "user" (who instigates the query and any resulting paid click - all in real time) rather than whose search engine/inventory that a user had originated [on] or, was found, on. And that on an impression by impression basis (that may or, may not lead to a paid click), each individual user must surely be of the utmost importance. When/then (ultimately?), its the advertiser's ROI that will always become the final judgment.

Just an opinion.

LOOK: $0.7240 Up 0.0240 (+3.43%) Apr 12, 3:42PM EDT


Disclosure: Long LOOK