LowestFare.com Tests Rich Media Ads

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LowestFare.com has jumped into the rich media marketing arena by using Hitplay Media's new Cupid Targeted Technology, which was unveiled at the Streaming Media East conference this month.

Two LowestFare 10-second ads are being streamed on hitplay.com, Hitplay officials said. The ads feature images of people preparing to go on vacation and promote LowestFare as well as the Web site's vacation cruise services.

They are being shown before video clips on hitplay.com and on sites licensed to use Cupid technology, said David Burzynski, vice president of sales and marketing at Hitplay Media, Los Angeles.

"It's not the most targeted of efforts," said David Lovely, senior director of marketing and communications at LowestFare.com, Las Vegas. "We just want to make sure we're experimenting and keeping up with the Web."

LowestFare will measure the click-through conversion rate to determine whether its first experiment with rich media marketing works.

If the experiment brings a low click-through rate, "we'll try revising the clip," Lovely said.

Cupid technology gives Internet advertisers the ability to match on-demand streaming video with targeted in-stream video ads. Web sites such as LowestFare can target broadband rich media users through in-depth demographic profiling, Burzynski said.

Web surfers also can click on links to the advertiser's site while the spots are streaming and after they are over.

Hitplay's other streaming video sponsors include online financial news network WebFN; extreme sports gear retailer and cataloger Arbor Sports; and lingerie retailer and cataloger Frederick's of Hollywood.

Burzynski said the LowestFare spots would be seen "hundreds of thousands of times" during the next few months.

Sponsors are charged a varying setup fee, and a serving charge of $10 to $15 per 1,000 impressions is applied, Burzynski said.

"Video ad insertion is the future of Internet advertising," Burzynski said.

"There are 60 billion banner ads served every month. Users are probably becoming immune to this. Streaming video and targeted ad insertion is a much better way [to get the message across]," he said.

Hitplay uses its own user registration database, which compiles registered users' age, gender and ZIP code information, to target ads to the appropriate audience. Soon, the site will tie in its own database information with national databases that monitor user click behavior, Burzynski said.

Burzynski would not comment on which database companies Hitplay is negotiating with. When a deal is cut, Burzynski said, Hitplay would be able to stream ads to users based on specific demographic information that users give when they opt in to receive Internet offers.

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