Review of AdGridwork
Updated - 08/03/2008
Go to www.adgridwork.com
AdGridwork.com is a free advertising exchange network where instead of receiving monetary payment, publishers are compensated with free advertising instead.
Originally conceived in November 2006 by Nick Mazza and Kyle Johnson, AdGridwork has already served over 80 million impressions across a network of over 6,500 websites. AdGridwork uses contextual technology similar to Google’s AdSense to display and target their ads.
In addition to AdGridwork, Mazza and Johnson also run ReviewBack.com, a free blog review and exchange service.
Exchanging ads in return for site traffic is not a new concept, however previous networks were almost exclusively banner exchange networks. AdGridwork appears to have married the idea of an ad exchange network with the robustness of contextual advertising to revitalize the genre.
Ad exchange networks have two main benefits over traditional advertising networks. First, they are a good resource for publishers without an advertising budget. For example, a publisher can leverage the muscle of one of their larger sites and use it to help drive traffic to one of their smaller ones.
Secondly, ad-exchange networks are theoretically cheaper than buying ads directly since there is no middleman taking a portion of the cut.
One of the biggest obstacles ad-exchange networks face is accumulating a large-enough publisher base. After all, the entire business model is based on there being enough other websites to exchange links with. Fortunately, AdGridwork.com has tackled this obstacle with its already large and growing user base.
Another benefit AdGridwork.com offers is targeted traffic. The majority of past ad-exchange networks simply threw publishers ads into one giant mix, but AdGridwork lets publishers define which categories they wish to have their ads appear on.
In addition, AdGridwork has also implemented a Merit-Based Ranking System which helps encourage publishers to promote their AdGridwork ads and not just place them on a rogue page. With the Merit-Based Ranking System, websites that generate more traffic are displayed more often on other sites.
The following is an example taken from AdGridwork.com:
”Bob's High End Sporting Goods and Al's Athletics are both websites that distribute sports apparel and products and who are both participating in adgridwork. Bob has taken the time to strategically place his Ad Code so as to maximize its exposure and click-throughs. On an average day, 100 of his visitors will click on one of the ads on his site. Al, on the other hand, is looking for a free-ride with adgridwork, and places his Ad Code on the seldom visited Frequently Asked Questions page of his site. If he's lucky, 1 or 2 users will click an ad on his site. Because Bob generates many more ad-clicks then Al, his site will have a higher rank. And what does this mean? Bob's site will be displayed much, MUCH more frequently on other user's sites.”
Lastly, as mentioned in the introduction, AdGridwork offers publishers the possibility of using one of their higher-trafficked sites as leverage by converting it into traffic to one of their smaller sites.
Signing up and getting started literally takes several seconds. Once the small application form is submitted, approval is automatic and instant, redirecting the publisher to their control panel.
Publishers with AdGridwork must be at least 18 years of age, and part of the User Agreement stipulates that publishers may not display advertisements on any error page, registration or "thank you" pages.
AdGridwork’s control panel is very simple given the limited nature of being an ad-exchange network. It is fast and easy to use, however could use a bit of rearranging for better usability.
The Campaign Overview page, which displays the statistics of the ads, is rather confusing the way it presents the data. It is not clear which data represents incoming ads and which represents outgoing ads. It would be recommended for AdGridwork to make this clearer, perhaps by creating two separate “incoming” and “outgoing” columns.
Stats are live, and will start updating the second a publisher’s ad code is added to their site. Stats and campaigns can be viewed by date, and publishers can edit their site details and description at any time.
All ads on AdGridwork.com are textual, displaying as purely text-based ads, but in traditional ad creative formats such as 468x60 and 120x600. This is similar to how Google’s AdSense and Bidvertiser handles ads.
Unfortunately, AdGridwork offers absolutely no ad customization, even though it would be relatively simple to implement since all ads are text-based.
Publishers are able to take advantage of the AdGridwork’s Site Exclusions feature, which allows publishers to block out specific websites. This is useful to block out competition or any other unwanted ads.
AdGridwork automatically adds a line of HTML above all their ads, displaying the linkable text “Free Advertising”. Unfortunately, this is not optional, and as a result of display above the rest of the code, it will create major formatting problems on any site that has a fixed space for their banner slot.
It would be recommended for AdGridwork to insert the “Free Advertising” link within the actual size constraints of the ad, as otherwise it makes using fixed-sized ads pointless. Better yet, this should definitely be an optional choice to publishers.
Another ad creative issue concern is that ads do not display properly in Internet Explorer 7, although they do in FireFox. For example, the bottom line of text in 468x60 banners gets clipped off in Internet Explorer, but displays fine in FireFox.
AdGridwork does permit the use of adult sites and ads, but restricts them to a private adult-only network, so they will not display on general sites.
While AdGridwork.com technically does have a referral program, it currently offers no incentive nor purpose other than simply helping to grow the size of their network.
Currently the only way to contact support is by e-mail or through a contact form, although there is a helpful FAQ listed within the member’s area.
AdGridwork states on their site that they will respond within 48-hours, but when we tested their support for this review under an unknown alias, they responded within an hour.
While AdGridwork needs to address the ad creative issues highlighted in this review, they’ve managed to provide a completely-free contextual ad-exchange network and populate it with a large network of sites.
As long as AdGridwork.com continues to improve their features and grow the size of their publisher base, they will remain near the cream of the crop of free ad-exchange networks.