By Weston Lagerhausen

Piiku, a year-old premium advertising channel, is aiming to break the barrier between advertisers and their consumers.

With its patent-pending Exchange Value Engine and a blue-ribbon board of directors, advisory board and management team, Piiku is building an advertising channel that delivers its members and advertisers an authentic viewing engagement of commercials from the most relevant companies.

Similar to, Piiku is a site where viewers create profiles based on their interests and some basic information. This helps offer the viewer advertisements based on a match to the most relevant commercials available from numerous brands. In a day and age when people are always on the go, all of these ads can be viewed at Piiku’s website simply by using smartphones, tablets, computers and television.

Piiku’s approach may come as welcome news to advertisers, considering that almost 65 percent of commercials are ignored by consumers who believe they intrude on programming and aren’t relevant to their interests. With advertisers spending about $70 billion a year on television advertising alone, there is a premium on not wasting money.

Companies are aware of this fact and are looking for a better way to make sure their content is viewed and viewed by the correct target audience. Piiku does this and does it well. After their first pilot test, a high percent said they learned something new about a brand and lead them towards a purchase; 94 percent said they wanted to participate in Piiku’s Beta launch.

Why would people deliberately sign up to watch commercials? After all, many skip them purposely with DVR or TiVo.

Most people tune out commercials because they do not pertain to their own interests. Through Piiku’s Exchange Value Engine, or EVE, the commercials that are viewed correlate to a viewer’s profile and after some easy follow-up questions, consumers are compensated for their time and effort.

While other compensatory models offer money, it is pennies compared to what Piiku offers for compensation. Piiku’s pilot participants earned up to $25 per week in Gift Cards based on the number, relevancy and verification of advertisements they viewed.

With more than 90 percent of their competition following the “push” advertising business model, only a few other companies like Piiku are trying a “pull” model. But unlike Piiku, these other companies do not have the patent-pending EVE matching and rating system, advanced rewards, or the transparency offered by Piiku to its members and advertisers.

“Piiku works for advertisers and members alike,” said founder, CEO and president Jim Rice. “It compels the member to log commercials on Piiku, and the relevancy of those commercials encourages engagement and responses. That helps the member find products and services as well as compensation, while the advertiser gets engagement in both views and responses to their commercials.”

Board members include Mike Lovett, former CEO of Charter Communication, Lou Borrelli; former CEO of NEP Broadcasting; Bart Flaherty, former CEO of the business Sciences unit of GroupM; and Rice, a former corporate vice president of Charter Communications.

The total U.S. advertising market is about $140 billion per year. Piiku intends to carve out a 1.6 percent share within five years. It is raising $600,000 to fund its second pilot to be launched in November of this year, to further develop its patent pending platform, and ramp-up its business development and marketing activities.

Lagerhausen is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.