London startup Yavli first started its life back in 2013, when a group of friends founded a software company that served sponsored content to millennial audiences, competing with the likes of Taboola and Outbrain.
But 18 months ago Yavli pivoted the business entirely in response to the huge rise in consumers using ad blocking software. The number of people using ad blockers worldwide has grown 41% year-on-year to 198 million monthly active users, according to a report from PageFair and Adobe.
A few months after launching, Yavli’s team noticed a huge problem: A huge proportion of the young people they were trying to reach never saw the sponsored content because they had ad blockers switched on.
Yavli set about building technology that would allow them to specifically target the ad blocker audience with sponsored content. The team figured that ad blocker users want to consume content, not ads, that’s why they have ad blockers turned on.
So unlike other anti-ad blocker solutions for publishers in the market — like Sourcepoint, which punches through the ad blocker to serve the originally-intended ad, or software that demands users turn off their ad blocker in order to view the content, or paywalls, — Yavli believes it can help publishers regain some of the tens of billions of dollars in revenue lost to ad blockers by replacing ads with sponsored content. Advertisers only pay for the sponsored content units if the user chooses to click on them. The units tend to be displayed at the bottom of the page, and in the sidebar.
Tom Yeomans, Yavli CEO, told Business Insider testing has already proved this approach to be “fantastic.” It officially launches out of stealth mode on Tuesday.
Yavli claims to already have more than 100 publishers on board — although admittedly, so far these are lesser-known publishers such as The Free Dictionary, CMC Group, and Publir. Depending on the publisher, Yeomans says its sponsored content units achieve click-through rates of 2.5-4%. In the US, the industry average click-through rate for display advertising is just 0.08%, according to Google.
The company is currently entirely self-funded on revenues, with a team of 20 people.
Yeomans told us: “We have generated substantial revenue over the last 12 months, well into the seven-figures. Right now we are focusing on rolling out our product — we are inundated with inquiries through word of mouth — however, raising money is not out of the question in the near future.”
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