E-Mail Notifier Tracks Site Activity

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Alerts.com, Raleigh, NC, a company that sends consumers an e-mail when updates are made to its clients' Web sites, is expanding its focus from solely transmitting clients' ads to tracking visitor activity on their sites. Web advertising auditor Interadnet Inc., Cary, NC, is providing Alerts with the tracking service and will offer Alerts' service to its clients.

The ads, which are being served through Interadnet's ad server, allow clients to track anything they want - purchases, dollar values of purchase, downloads, page views or requests for more information, said Skip Graham, vice president and co-founder of Interadnet. The technology is currently being tested with Interadnets' healthcare clients, which include Glaxo Wellcome, Biogen and Quintiles Transnational Corp. The test will extend to its other clients at the end of the month.

"When the ads are sent out through the Alerts system, our system tracks the fact that those ads go out. It tracks how many e-mail Alerts are sent, how many are opened, and the client only pays for the e-mails that are opened." Graham said. "If they click on the banner and go to the site, it tracks the click, and then whatever happens at the site afterward, it tracks that, too."

Since testing began, "generally, most of the e-mails that actually get sent out do get opened. With the Alerts, "actual activity [open-rates] within the e-mails [is] higher than 70 percent," he said.

When consumers visit a media or portal content Web site that has partnered with Alerts.com, they can request to be informed - via e-mail - when information on that site is updated or changed. They can request to be alerted when certain keywords appear in the full text or title of an article. Alerts.com's clients include CNET and Ford.

Alerts will build a database of names for their clients, but will not have access to the information.

"Even though it's just on our servers, we give them a window into the data so they can cut it, slice it and dice it any way they want," said Mike Jones, president/CEO and founder of Alerts.com. He would not disclose the number of names it has collected for clients.

Interadnet hopes to encourage viewers to come back to its clients' sites multiple times. "[Content sites] spend a lot of money to get you to their site that first time," said Graham. "But when [consumers] show up at your site, you're not breaking even at that point. It's got to be repeat business at that site in order to recoup your revenue that you spent on advertising. That's what you're seeing as the whole focus of what a lot of marketing on the Web is doing now. And the Alerts system does that."

From the advertiser's point of view, the Alerts system is designed to increase the frequency of ad view since the client can sponsor the ad embedded in the e-mail, according to Graham.

"Our client already owns the ad space there, so there's an additional ad impression," he said. For example, Biogen bought all of the Alerts sent to people who request updated information about multiple sclerosis "because they're all MS sufferers, so they're always a valid hit."

The ads also can be bought by a third-party advertiser.

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