Broadband Digital to Come Clean on Ad Serving Question

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Ryan and Chad Steelberg, the co-founders of AdForce Inc., chose the ad serving firm's arch rival, DoubleClick, as the partner for their new Broadband Digital Group, DoubleClick and Broadband Digital are expected to announce this week.

The Steelbergs founded AdForce in 1995 but later left the company to start separate Web ventures. As reported April 14, they opted against AdForce's ad serving technology for Broadband Digital's FreeDSL, a free broadband service that will make money primarily through targeted advertising to its users. The service launched this month.

As previously reported, Broadband Digital, Newport Beach, CA, was unwilling to identify the company that will deliver ads to FreeDSL's more than 900,000 users. DoubleClick, New York, also wouldn't relate details of the firms' relationship.

The companies are expected to announce this week that they signed an agreement for Broadband Digital to implement DoubleClick's Dart ad serving technology. DoubleClick was serving Web banners for Winfire, another Steelberg-founded company that merged with Broadband Digital two weeks ago.

Last year, AdForce was acquired by Internet conglomerate CMGI Inc. for more than $500 million. AdForce says it has the most reliable ad serving technology in the industry, claiming an "up time" of 99.992 percent.

"It's definitely a slight," Lazard Freres & Co. analyst Dana Serman said of the Steelbergs' decision to choose a company other than AdForce.

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