ValueClick Adds E-Mail to Services

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ValueClick Inc., a cost-per-click ad network, has entered the e-mail marketing field with the rollout of ValueClick Opt-in E-mail, a service that seeks to bring together e-mail list owners with offline and online advertisers.

The Westlake Village, CA, online ad firm said its e-mail services would be modeled after its ad network, which charges clients for the number of visitors sent to their sites, not for the number of people who simply view the banner ad.

The company debuted the e-mail in beta mode last month as a way to broaden its offerings beyond banner and wireless ads, according to John Ardis, ValueClick's vice president for marketing.

"We've felt for some time now as a company that e-mail is going to be a major force on an ongoing basis in online marketing," Ardis said. "We really wanted to focus on what were the right applications for the kinds of e-mail services that our advertisers would turn to us for."

So far, ValueClick's e-mail assortment consists of single e-mail campaigns targeted to niche markets, broader campaigns geared to a more general Internet audience and customizable e-mail newsletters. Through various partnerships with companies inside and outside its ad network, ValueClick claims to have access to more than 25 million e-mail addresses and some 120 content categories. Its e-mail lists can be targeted to the standard assortment of selects -- state, county, city, ZIP code and ZIP code radius.

While ValueClick claims that many of its ad network clients are higher-profile offline firms such as British Airways and Discover Card, it is focusing the bulk of its e-mail efforts on mid-sized to smaller companies. Those advertisers do not have a dominant e-mail player -- a la NetCreations or 24/7 Mail -- serving them, according to Dave Boardman, ValueClick's vice president for product development.

"We've pulled together a lot of sources of databases from a number of different list vendors," Boardman said. "And as we move forward we will look to build our own databases as well."

The sources of its future inhouse lists are likely to be ValueClick's ad network partners, which include between 13,000 and 14,000 U.S. Web sites. The number of partners rises to 20,000 when international sites are added to the mix. ValueClick says it delivers 5 billion impressions per month through these sites.

In building its lists, Boardman said the company would not necessarily subscribe to the belief that bigger is better.

"We found that large lists are not always as good as the small ones," he said. "Our choice is to go for much tighter lists and higher quality."

After testing out the new e-mail services in October, ValueClick said it is now completely live and is capable of targeting specific audiences and monitoring the results of its clients' campaigns.

The opt-in e-mail program follows the introduction of a performance-based wireless advertising service by ValueClick's Japanese subsidiary and the acquisition of Straight Up, a specialty advertising analysis firm.

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