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Posted on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Tech Brewery startup aims to help advertisers reach smartphone users

By Ben Freed

Monetizing users is nothing new in the world of online marketing, but it has been particularly challenging for companies to take advantage of mobile users through advertising.

According to a story in Concentrate Media, local startup AppKey is aiming to solve that problem.


A number of startup companies are housed in the Tech Brewery on Jones Drive just north of downtown Ann Arbor.

Mark Bialek | For Ann

The company has created a new advertising channel that it hopes will fix the return on investment problem for advertising trying to make money on mobile devices. Its strategy is based on the idea that smartphone users will opt-in for advertising in return for free premium content.

Based in the Tech Brewery on Jones Drive, AppKey is about one year old, employs three people, and has reached 8,000 users. The company plans to scale quickly, with CEO Jim Vitek telling Concentrate he expects to hit more than 1 million users within the next year.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Jaime Magiera

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Though I'm happy to see inspired developers, I'm not too keen on these advertising-based business models. I'd rather see more flat rate and/or micropayment content systems. Advertising ruins the immersive experience of content and is based on all kinds of poor attempts at Artificial Intelligence. This is the same problem with Google, Facebook, etc. - who are losing money because of mobiles. AppKey is trying to fill that space. Really, I wish ad-based models would die a quick death. The public needs to suck it up and start thinking about paying directly for content (e.g. micropayments).

Jaime Magiera

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Sorry, I should have been more clear... decline in earnings. The numbers for Google's earnings report in October showed that they had a 12% decrease in earnings. Facebook had similar results. Also, note that in Q3, Facebook had a net loss. Both companies addressed their mobile issues, but it's still shaky. Facebook did post a profit for Q4. However, they are down from a year ago.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

I'm sympathetic to your point that people may need to actually pay for content and services they enjoy (see, for instance, the outcry over Google Reader's termination this week). And a lot of the ad models result in soul-crushing experiences with value-less content (e.g. BuzzFeed's articles like "13 Squeeze Bottle Accidents You Have To Avoid"). But Google and Facebook are making money hand over fist, not losing money because of mobile. Google is doing just fine with mobile advertising, and Facebook has really just started to tap that market. Its most recent quarterly results show positive growth there. The real problem is that mobile advertising is too hard unless you have enormous traffic, which Google and Facebook do enjoy.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Professional spammers