Service Collects E-Mail Addresses of Interested Consumers

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CustomLead, New Haven, CT, has developed a new banner ad service it claims will enable marketers to collect the e-mail addresses of consumers interested in specific products or offers.

The cost-per-e-mail banner network, as CustomLead calls it, was designed to offer advertisers a way to use banner ads to gain the opt-in e-mail addresses of prospective customers. Each CustomLead banner ad contains one-line marketing offers from three different companies and asks consumers to type in their e-mail addresses and check the boxes for whichever offers interest them.

The appeal of this format to Web users, said Abbie Drew, president of CustomLead, is that the sign-up takes place in the banner and the consumer is never whisked away to a separate registration page. The appeal to marketers, she added, is that the service enables them to custom-build an e-mail database, instead of relying on hit-or-miss prospecting from rented lists.

"It was created as a way to help companies who may be tired of the rental side or who want to develop their own inhouse mailing list," Drew said. "There are only so many times you can keep hitting a rental list. Eventually you get to a point where you really want to start having your own e-mail list."

The advertiser clients provide the copy for the offer, while CustomLead determines which Web site the banners will appear on. Drew would not name the sites that make up the CustomLead network, but she said they encompass a wide range, including business, automotive, technology and family sites.

The service, which launched last month, can target the banner offers to sites that might draw more of a niche audience. For example, Drew said, if a sneaker manufacturer wanted to reach athletic consumers, it could request that CustomLead only place its banners on sports Web sites.

In a departure from the traditional cost-per-thousand advertising pricing models, the cost-per-e-mail banner network charges clients for a set number of e-mail names. The client agrees to pay CustomLead for a specific number of e-mail addresses -- 500, 1,000, 10,000, etc. -- and the banner offers run as many times as needed to reach that figure. The company would not discuss its prices in further detail.

Drew said CustomLead was careful to make sure that online consumers who type in their e-mail addresses on the banners understand what they are signing up for. The company sends a confirmation e-mail to the registrants and does not turn the names over to its advertiser-clients until the subscribers confirm the opt-in.

Through the end of August, CustomLead, which is owned by e-zine marketer Direct E-Mail Co., will attempt to build its client and site volume, Drew said. In September, it plans a larger marketing and promotional campaign.

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