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Local App Maker Wants to Revolutionize Advertising

With AdXplore, users search for local advertising for businesses close to their smartphones.

There’s a smartphone application for tracking your calorie intake and another for your sleep cycles. One lets you watch the New Year’s ball drop in Times Square and another gets you an up-close-and-personal look at the universe wherever you point your iPhone.

And now there’s an app that will help you find your favorite drink specials at 100 different Happy Hours—right here in Santa Cruz.

Before you cry Yelp (or even Groupon), take a look at this mobile app developed by a longtime Santa Cruz resident and launched just for us locals. It’s called AdXplore, and you just might hear more about it and about the man behind it—Steve Russ— in 2012.

While websites, the Yellow Pages and newspapers offer listings for local businesses, AdXplore delivers advertising and specials for local businesses—potentially 14,000 local businesses in Santa Cruz County.   

Russ calls it a “caused-base business,” and he and Valerie Lasciak, who works with him, were inspired by Think Local First, a countywide organization that promotes the local business community.  

A sailboat builder and former Apple systems and software developer, Russ has worked on the AdXplore application for the past year and a half. He and his team developed the technology and built the Web interface and application. And now they’re setting out to build their sales force and market their product.

So here’s how it works if you’re a user. You download the free app and do a keyword search, say for coffee, just as you would with Google. Up pops a list of advertising—for shops like Coffeetopia and the Kind Grind, all locally owned and ordered on the app according to what’s closest to wherever you are when you’re looking at your phone.

Of course, locally owned means no Starbucks and no Peet’s on your search for coffee. That’s because AdXplore’s approach, Russ says, is to level the playing field, and the giant chains aren't allowed.

“This is a searchable advertising model, a ‘pull model that makes it cost-effective for locally owned business challenged to compete with big chains,” he says. “Consumers need to find what’s around them, including the mom-and-pop shops. And we’re never going to allow businesses to ‘pay for placement.’”

Businesses are charged a one-time setup fee of $100, of which a percentage is paid to AdXplore’s independent sales reps. There’s a $50 charge to create each ad to promote specials, sales, discounts and coupons, without an extra charge to change the ads.  

Russ says he hopes to attract UC Santa Cruz students and others to be sales reps for all the thousands of businesses in the county. All they need is a smartphone to sign up businesses, fill in forms and set up the mobile advertising.

Russ can be reached at sruss@adxplore.us or 831-239-8078.

Valerie Frank December 31, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Thanks Cheri, that was a fun morning
Xanthippe December 31, 2011 at 06:31 PM
I thought it was a terrific idea - until I got to the ideological restriction on no giant chains. It won't be very useful for tourists or travelers. What if there are no local mom-and-pops who want to plop down the $100 set up fee? What if I'm driving down 99 and want to find a sandwich or coffee? What if I am a fan of Starbucks or Whole Foods or Target? From a consumer point of view, giant chain does not necessarily mean bad product, and even in Santa Cruz there are objects which are not carried by local mom-and-pops. Underwear and gym socks? Sheets and towels? Plenty of household goods are unavailable except at chains.
Cheri O'Neil December 31, 2011 at 09:28 PM
I think the idea is that you can find Starbucks and Target. They're already advertising elsewhere. It's the little guys and their specials that aren't so easy to find out about.
Xanthippe January 04, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Yes, but that's my point - they're viewing the app in a restricted way, on how it is useful to businesses, and in line with their own ideological views. Which is fine, it's their app. I'm commenting as a potential user, and on its restricted appeal to me, the consumer. Why would I use an app like this over yelp? I would if I had a strong preference to avoid chains (and some people do), but I don't. So while it might be a great app for a person who wants to avoid chains, it's of limited use to consumers who just want to find a cup of coffee.

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