By Gavin Dunaway

e-Miles CEO and President Mark Drusch is very disappointed I haven’t set up a miles program with an airline, especially since I used to visit my Italian girlfriend several times a year in Milan and will probably visit my Italian in-laws a few times a year outside of Venice. I’d never given much thought to it as I’d always just hunt down the cheapest fare on Kayak, but now I realize my last several flights were all on the same airline. Now I’m getting disappointed in myself as well.

As soon as I do join a miles plan, I might be able to get in on the fun e-Miles offers by delivering airline miles in exchange for interacting with targeted messages from brands. The company has already awarded more than a billion miles to consumers that join the permission-based ad platform. In the next few months, Drusch says, e-Miles will have hookups with nearly every major North American airline’s loyalty program.

It’s a simple setup: members of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs are invited to sign up for e-Miles to receive extra miles for viewing ads and then offering feedback. Watching a 60-second video ad and answering three questions can earn a user 5 miles; more time-intensive activities can rack up additional points.

“It’s a five-mile thank you, ” Drusch comments. “Nobody is going to jump through hoops for five miles; the consumer is going to do something he or she wants to do.

The permission-based marketing platform develops profiles of users through submitted data as well as the feedback given to advertisers. So all the ads users receive are targeted based on their interests.

“The key here is that the advertiser only pays when he or she answers the questions, ” Drusch says. This way it’s an efficient use of the advertiser’s money and a cool and unique way to gather additional data about that advertising message.”

e-Miles platform truly transcends the one-way advertising model to foster communication between advertisers and consumers. Drusch offers Times Square billboards for the new CBS fall lineup as an example — CBS hopes you watch the show, but doesn’t have any idea whether their advertising is swaying you in that direction. On e-Miles, CBS can serve a trailer to its target demographic and then get feedback on how effective the message was. Through analyzing the responses with additional demographic data, the company can better target its messaging.

“You’re turning one-way communications into two-way conversations, ” he says.

And it’s fascinating that eMiles works up and down the sales funnel — advertisers take the data gleaned from responses to approach consumers with a new message, giving them the potential to lead a high-funnel target all the way down to a conversion through customized messaging.

As the technological infrastructure is solid, e-Miles is focusing on scaling its efforts — on the supply side with access to the frequent flyer miles of all the major airlines and the demand with additional and more varied advertisers. Though the company has existed four and a half years, Drusch says its flown under the radar — but now is the time to expand e-Miles’ base of 4, 000 advertisers. He also mentions that the company is eyeing new forms of currencies such as online gift cards.


After years of ping-ponging around various industry publications, Gavin Dunaway finagled his way into the senior editor slot at Adotas, a depot for interactive advertising news and commentary. When not penning snarky articles about social media and behavioral targeting, the Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

This piece originally appeared at Adotas September 8, 2011. It has been reprinted with permission.

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