4shared: A Case of Complex Ad Serving

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Article ImageCompany:4shared

4shared has been providing customers with free file sharing and hosting services since 2005. It allows users to upload, store, and download a variety of data and media-from music to video to documents. With a staff of programmers, marketers, and web designers, the site is visited by about 132 million monthly unique visitors. The company supports its free services, in part, by running advertising on its site.


Business Challenge

In order to support its mission to provide free hosting, 4shared sells advertising, allowing companies to capitalize on 4shared's roughly 132 million visitors per month. However, running a variety of dynamic advertising campaigns was proving to be a problem. Dealing directly with advertisers as well as with ad servers was too labor-intensive, and the company needed a better solution.

Vendor of Choice: Epom

Epom, founded in 2010, is an ad serving solutions provider. Its products include Epom Ad Server, Epom Market, and Epom Direct Ads. According to Epom's website, its "Ad Server's clients serve more than 15B impressions monthly," and Epom Market-a cost-per-mille (CPM) and cost-per-click (CPC) network-boasts 10 billion impressions per month. Epom Direct Ads does what its name suggests: It is a direct campaign service.


The Problem In-Depth

4shared provides a free desktop application for Windows, Linux, and Mac, as well as mobile and premium solutions that allow users to store, share, and access files on a wide variety of devices. Users can also integrate file storage into their websites or mobile applications by building apps with 4shared API. But the technical demands of serving ads on all of these platforms from companies around the globe were more than 4shared was prepared to handle in the long term. While the ads are an important part of the company's business model, it just wasn't the core of the business and had become a time-consuming distraction from 4shared's true purpose-providing users with file storage and sharing. "It's true that 4shared file storage happens to have a lot of traffic from different parts of the world, and we're constantly working with diverse advertisers-that is, running multiple ad campaigns of different kinds simultaneously," says Maria Stoieva, senior international sales manager at 4shared. 

"We used to face certain hurdles and complications with running versatile campaigns (e.g. display, video, mobile, in-app ones, etc.) all at one place," she explains. "The previous experience of dealing with numerous direct advertisers and several ad serving solutions providers didn't fit our preferences at all, as the traffic stats had to be checked and compared manually by our managers on a daily basis to assure that every single ad was displayed in the correct way."

As you might imagine, manually checking each ad's performance was an onerous task, taking hours of employee time that could be spent much more efficiently. Stoieva says that 4shared had long been on the hunt for an ad server that would work for its needs, but there just wasn't a good fit. The vast majority of companies didn't seem to meet all of 4shared's needs. Finding a company that could ensure peak performance across multiple devices and formats seemed as if it would never happen.  

The Solution

In this case, Epom made the first move. "Our sales managers decided to contact 4shared, as we knew the company as one of the largest file storages in the world with a lot of international traffic and we felt our ad serving solution had everything to match their needs," says Weronika Wi´sniewska, sales manager at Epom. She adds, "Our negotiations with 4shared representatives revealed that they had been seeking for such solution as ours for long, so it was a sort of destiny that we decided to offer our services to 4shared." From there, things moved quickly. 

"Epom sales managers contacted us in June 2011, and in August 2011 we officially started the partnership," says Stoieva. She adds, "The partner negotiations took around two months, as we had to discuss all of the peculiar features we might need beforehand, and confirm the details within our team as well." 

What were those "peculiar features" that Stoieva says 4shared needed? "To start with, one of the core features we're taking advantage of is the range of mobile targeting options, like targeting by device vendor, for example. In addition to that, we're also happy to say that even though we're serving the large-scale campaigns most of the time, Epom servers cope with such volumes easily," she says. 

"Having decided on Epom we started moving the campaigns, which took even less time than we had expected due much to the qualified assistance from the side of Epom support team," says Stoieva. "Of course, you can't but encounter minor underwater stones, but these issues were fixed and eliminated quickly as well." Wi´sniewska echoes this sentiment.

"As long as we were done with the negotiations, we could start moving 4shared ad campaigns to Epom. It was quite a must for us to provide the high-quality assistance to their managers whenever they might have needed our help," says Wi´sniewska. "The implementation process wasn't really effort- or time-consuming for either side, though, and we didn't face any serious troubles. Naturally, we had a few minor issues during the implementation process, but these were solved in the blink of an eye due to our skilled support managers."

4shared now uses Epom Ad Server and Epom Market. Stoieva says, "Epom ad server is being used by us for ad inventory operations: it simplifies the process of creation of ad zones and ad placements, launch of new ad campaigns, their real-time management, and optimization. Moreover, the access to real-time customized reports and analytics allow tracking each campaign performance and forecast future results as well."

Since having joined the Epom Market ad network, 4shared says it has had an opportunity to connect with premium advertisers, and, as a result, enhance the company's advertising revenue.

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