Loffles Looks to Revamp Online Raffle Tickets With Targeted Ads

7/18/11Follow @xconomy

Loffles, a Providence, RI-based Web startup, is looking to put a spin on classic entries to raffles, and simultaneously give online advertisers a shot at targeting the consumers they’re actually interested in.

Consumers buy into a contest on Loffles not with cash, but with about 45 seconds of their time. Raffle entrants select a prize (worth somewhere between $50 to thousands of dollars) they’d like a shot at winning, answer a few demographic questions, and watch a short commercial. Advertisers, meanwhile, decide which consumers they want to target based on the answers to their questions, and pay Loffles for those views.

“It’s a validated targeted deal,” says founder Brandon Yoshimura, a Brown University undergraduate student. “That seems to be the sticking point. It’s a low-risk, high-reward channel.

Loffles (the name comes from combining “lottery” and “raffles”) works to make sure that consumers are actually checking out the ads, by asking them a question at the end of the commercial. Yoshimura said he and others from his water polo team at Brown thought of the idea for the company as meaningful way to connect advertisers with the consumers they actually want to target, through a raffle-like marketplace.

For those who don’t think it’s worth their time to repeatedly enter into a contest with only a chance of winning, Loffles offers more, says Yoshimura. Each time users watch a commercial, they earn currency, called loffles, that they can ultimately use to buy goods on the company’s online marketplace.

“It takes all of the element of chance out of the equation and makes everyone a winner, given enough time,” says Yoshimura.

Since opening up to the public three weeks ago, Loffles has seen users spend roughly 13 minutes on the site on average, viewing about 18 pages per visit. The company has attracted users organically through Twitter and Facebook, and is also bringing advertisers on board. Brands can opt to sponsor an entire sweepstakes, or buy specific numbers of views from a specific group of consumers (say, females in their thirties), and Loffles will do the matching.

For now, the service is free to advertisers, but Loffles has plans to charge them for the views they want, with a higher premium for brands that want to target a very specific audience. The company will also charge a monthly fee to brands who want more service from Loffles, for things like selecting the consumers to advertise to and choosing which raffles to sponsor, Yoshimura says.

The five-person startup raised about $500,000 in funding last October from angels and a few private equity groups, says Yoshimura. The Loffles founder still has a couple classes left to complete his degree at Brown, but for now he’s working on the company full-time. Now that the product is out, one of the big goals is to “make sure the platform works,” he says. He’s also focused on nabbing more consumers to try the site and inking deals with national advertisers.

Yoshimura says Loffles hopes to carve a niche for itself beyond daily deal sites that are pulling in scores of consumers looking for a deal. It will be interesting to see how consumers take to the raffle marketplace world, and if advertisers will get the eyes they want on their content.

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