With ad-saving business slow, AdKeeper expands to email, Pinterest

When AdKeeper launched as a virtual ad-clipping service last February, the big question was: will people actually want to save online ads? More than one year later, the company still says the answer is “yes.”  But they’re finding that consumer behavior isn’t changing as fast as they’d hoped. So while they wait for the industry to catch up with their vision (or scramble frantically to convince people the service is worth their time, depending on your point of view), they’ve decided to spread some of the $40 million they’ve raised on other ways of connecting consumers and brands.
The company launched a new holding company Tuesday, called Keep Holdings, which manages a scaled-back AdKeeper in addition to two new products, Swizzle and Keep.com.
MaryAnn Bekkedahl, Keep Holdings’ president, said the new direction isn’t a departure from the company’s original mission of connecting consumers with brands they like. And, she added, they still support the notion of “keeping” ads.
“I believe it will be a behavior that we all know and love in the future,” she said. “It will just take time.”
When the company launched, the industry was abuzz with talk of more creative ads, she said, pointing to more compelling ad formats such as Aol’s “Project Devil” and the IAB’s “Rising Stars,” as well as creative shops developing next-generation rich media ads. But, over time, the company decided that the creative energy wasn’t translating into better ads fast enough.
With the new AdKeeper, advertisers still embed KeepButton JavaScript or Flash code into their ads so that consumers can click the button to save the ads. But the company has switched to a self-service model and recently allowed consumers to pin ads to Pinterest.  Also, instead of saving ads to a separate location, consumers can now save ads to email. Bekkedahl said that since they switched to a lower-touch model, fewer advertisers are using the product, but they’re working to bring more on board.
Keep Holdings also recently launched Swizzle, an email-based service that lets consumers manage all brand-related messages from a consolidated location. The service ports all of a consumer’s brand-related content out of their normal inbox, lets them unsubscribe from the ones they no longer wish to receive and organize the ones they do care about. Last week it opened in beta to its first few thousand users.
In the next few weeks, Keep Holdings plans to release another social commerce service called Keep.com. For now, the service is under wraps, but, in an interview with AdExchanger, CEO and co-founder Scott Kurnit described it as “a cross between Pinterest and Instagram in terms of social shopping.”
Bekkedahl said the company currently has its hands full with the three products, but she didn’t reject the idea that Keep Holdings could continue to expand its footprint.
“As those become successful, we could have the bandwidth to take on more,” she said. “I would be excited about considering an opportunity in ad tech.”
Disclosure: True Ventures, which invested in AdKeeper, is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.