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Ken Magill

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Firm Boasts a Rich, Cultured Email Network

By Ken Magill

Though the recession of 2007 was deeply painful for most businesses, the economic meltdown that began three years ago put one company on the map.

AltruNetwork sells standalone display advertising on a revenue-share basis on the tops and bottoms of the email newsletters and event announcements of some 700 arts and cultural institutions, reaching a total of 7 million patrons and donors.

As a result, the company claims, it is the largest aggregator of donors and patrons of the top symphonies, operas, ballets, art museums and performing arts centers in the U.S.

“We allow brands to piggy back off of the primary point of communication from these organizations to their patrons and donors, which are opt-in email newsletters and opt-in event announcements,” said David Hack, CEO of the AltruNetwork. “Plus they get the ancillary benefit of positive brand association.”

Getting the organizations’ executives to accept advertising when the idea was hatched, however, proved no easy task. Many were initially repulsed by the idea of putting advertising in their member communications, said Hack.

“In the beginning we had a terrible time getting arts and cultural organizations onboard,” said Hack. “They were like: ‘Ugh, we would never put advertising in our email communications.’ Then the economy went in the garbage bin and what do you know? These organizations started calling us. They were looking at any type of revenue they could bring in the door. The recession was the thing that far and away made the dominoes fall.”

Hack added that since getting them onboard, AltruNetwork has experienced little to no organization attrition.

“We’re like meth dealers,” he said. “We give them a little taste and we’ve got them hooked.”

Hack said that originally, AtruNetwork considered representing all types of non-profits, but since the other non-profits were hesitant to select high-net-worth individuals out of their databases, arts and cultural organizations was the logical choice for keeping the focus on the wealthy.

Not surprisingly, AltruNetwork boasts some stellar brands as advertisers, including Infiniti, Aston Martin, Wells Fargo, Ritz Carlton, Gulfstream, private jet service CitationAir, Bose, luxury cruise firm Yachts of Seabourn and Italian luxury goods retailer Bulgari.

The company also boasts some pretty solid metrics, including a guaranteed 25 percent open rate and average click-through rates of from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

Open rates—where the receiving machine calls for graphics from the sender—generally average about 20 percent.

AltruNetwork allows advertisers to select by organization. “The beauty of that is you can place advertising only in the DMA [designated market area] you want to reach,” said Hack.

The company’s rate card starts at $90 per thousand delivered emails for orders less 100,000 and drops to $45/CPM for orders of 1 million or more.

Though AltruNetwork represents a vast network of organizations, it still has some pretty big fish to fry, including the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Those are three big ones that have yet to fall,” Hack said, adding he is confident he can get them to join.

“They’d be foolish to turn the money down,” he said. “If you look at the numbers, for most of these arts and cultural organizations, we provide a greater revenue stream than they get from any individual sponsor that they have off line.”

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