The Dumbest Publishing Startup of 2010

October 11, 2010 by Thad McIlroy

You thought you dislike online banner advertising? Perhaps you’ve even installed software like Ad Annihilator, Adblock Pro or Super Ad Blocker to block banner ads from appearing. Or, more likely, you’ve trained yourself to just filter them out, to generally ignore these intrusive ads.

Do not despair. Now you can renounce your bad habits and regain the consumer karma that you lost. The just-announced AdKeeper lets consumers click to save online ads. Yippee. Now you can see them whenever you’re thinking, “Boy, I sure wish I could look just at online ads and avoid all that pesky web site content.”


Or, as the company press release states, AdKeeper is:

…a transformative online advertising service that will forever change the way consumers interact with the Internet. With one simple click of a button, consumers can place ads of their choice into their personal ‘Keeper™,” offering them absolute control to save, sort, sift, share, rank, review, click, print and buy online from ads they have specifically selected… One Click. Kept. Period.

And here you thought the business world ground to a halt on Columbus Day. (Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving today, and now they’ve got one more thing to be thankful for.)

AdKeeper is founded by Scott Kurnit, self-declared as “one of the nation’s most successful online media entrepreneurs.” He’s also the founder of, the web site that continues to prove that superficial, badly-written and inaccurate information can make money in these still-nascent days of the Web.

Strangely the advisory board of AdKeeper includes some strong players, including John Battelle, Jeremy Allaire and Esther Dyson. Their presence makes me wonder if I’m missing something here: maybe there’s a benefit to mankind to be able to keep ads nearby, like old teddy bears or childhood photos.

Until I figure it out I’m calling AdKeeper “The Dumbest Publishing Startup of 2010.”


Update, March 6, 2011

According to MediaPost Volvo will be one of the first advertisers to use the AdKeeper button, starting next week.

A video on the AdKeeper site provides a straightforward explanation of AdKeeper’s straightforward value proposition. Advertising on the Internet, it says, has been modeled on television, while it would have been better to have modeled it on print. With print some consumers like to clips ads for later reference. Now it’s possible on the Web.

Of course it has always been simple to save ads in GIF, JPEG, PNG and other 2D-only formats. Only Flash-based ads are difficult to capture. AdKeeper adds metrics to this practice.

Stay tuned.

(According to the AdKeeper site, the current #1 kept advertisement is for Wendy’s Bold New Asiago Ranch Chicken Club: “Wendy’s new Asiago Ranch Chicken Club. Tender, juicy chicken breast fillet topped with Applewood Smoked Bacon, aged Asiago cheese and a creamy ranch sauce. Available in spicy, grilled or homestyle.” Yum.)

Update, June 27, 2011

A balanced report in The New York Times, which demonstrates, among other things, how to reduce 45 minutes of my blather into a two-sentence pithy quote.

February 20, 2014: Adage: “What You Can Learn From Adkeeper’s Epic Fail (And Pivot)”

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    Oct 11th, 2010 : 1:27 PM

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  • Larry Molmud

    Oct 14th, 2010 : 1:10 PM

    Hmm. I put myself on the “Do Not Call List” last year, I wonder if there’s an app that will get the telemarketers to start calling me at 10 pm again to re-fi the mortgage I no longer have.

  • Common Sense

    Oct 16th, 2010 : 9:24 AM

    You’ve completely missed the point – you sound like all those people that dismissed the iPad before launch.

    The whole idea behind AdKeeper is that now advertisers have a reason to make ads better, it isn’t just about driving immediate click through. Personally this makes a lot of sense to me and IF advertisers take this seriously it will dramatically improve consumers reaction to advertising.

    I’ve absolutely seen advertising that I’m interested in that I’ve ignored because I was busy doing something else.

  • Thad McIlroy

    Oct 16th, 2010 : 11:13 PM

    I wrote to John Battelle and to Esther Dyson, asking each of them, “What am I missing?”

    Haven’t heard yet from Esther. From John:

    On Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 11:48 PM, John Battelle wrote:

    yep. you are missing that ads are part of a value chain. ads are not the enemy.


  • Bridget

    Oct 18th, 2010 : 1:46 PM

    At first glance I agreed with your astonishment at the stupidity of this idea, but thinking about it more I see the value in John’s response. Advertisements can be a great way to save money. Grocery stores are a great example of that. I am not saying that this, which is essentially digital coupon clipping, is for everyone, but I do believe that it has a market.

  • peter

    Oct 20th, 2010 : 7:27 PM

    anyone can play the role of critic which is fine, but your knee-jerk reaction shows how little you understand about advertising, consumer behavior, and innovation.

  • Thad McIlroy

    Oct 20th, 2010 : 9:50 PM

    @Common Sense
    I would be very pleased if this does serve as an incentive to make advertising on the web of better quality than it is today. As John Battelle wrote above, “ads are part of a value chain.” I agree that such is the current model, and without advertising revenue, the web would be a very different creature. Although the anonymous @peter has assessed “how little (I) understand about advertising, consumer behavior, and innovation,” I do know that I enjoy and find value in catchy, informative, or sometimes just amusing advertising, and I find shockingly little of that on the web today.

  • Thad McIlroy

    Oct 20th, 2010 : 10:01 PM

    I’ll confess that I’m not surprised that @peter is not only anonymous, but used a fake email address. It’s a shame that the advertising community can’t find better spokespeople. I did notify the PR department of AdKeeper of this blog entry when I first posted it, but have not heard from them.


    Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    Technical details…

    Hi Peter,

    I’ve replied to your comment. I’d greatly appreciate additional information on what I’m missing about the value of this startup rather than an insult about my ignorance: that would be more helpful.


  • Thad McIlroy

    Oct 20th, 2010 : 11:34 PM

    I just searched again on Google to see if any other analyst had figured out what I’m missing, but the reviews are all skeptical; the comments even more so:

    I found one positive entry, although the excitement is related to the pedigree of the team, rather than an analysis of the offering: “A storm is brewing in the New York startup scene and it may very well shake things in media quite a bit”:

  • Stuart Thursby

    Oct 22nd, 2010 : 7:40 AM

    50+ years of trying to engage, inform, enlighten and entertain consumers in all forms of media.

    That’s been the point of advertising since the creative revolution.

    Before that, it was another 75+ years of trying to engage, inform, enlighten and entertain consumers in all forms of media — without quite as much emphasis on the “entertain” bit.

    I *highly* doubt that a web start-up has the capacity to inspire creatives to create better ads than we have before. Sales returns, Cannes and Communication Arts have about eight hundred thousand percent more sway in inspiring ingenuity and greatness than a company like Ad Keeper can ever hope to achieve.

    Sorry. Not buying this as anything but a blip on the radar.

  • MAD Monday - iPensatori

    Sep 26th, 2011 : 3:54 PM

    […] The New York Times, not as an ad, but as an article here. One quote which stood out for me was from Thad McIlroy who declared AdKeeper: The Dumbest Publishing Startup of […]

  • Guest

    Mar 6th, 2012 : 8:34 AM

    I know this is an old thread, but I have to agree that the idea is dumb.  We flip over magazine ads unless we’re specifically looking for something, and we do the same on the internet.  Really, why would I keep an ad??  My mantra is “the only good ads are Superbowl ads,” so you wouldn’t get me to save anything else off the ‘net.  Besides, I’m seeing trouble in the company.  In recent months, the management team has shrunk (see their website) and a TON of AdKeeper ex-employees are looking for jobs.  I’m calling this one, “down and out for the count.”  I hope the investors are seeing this too.

  • Thad McIlroy

    Mar 6th, 2012 : 11:36 AM

    I see a February 13, 2012 blog entry on the AdKeeper site: “Enhancements to the AdKeeper Service”. They’re hanging in there…it remains a mystery to me.