Networks Update Targeting Capabilities

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The Internet's biggest ad networks last week announced new targeting capabilities for marketers. At least one competitor, though, said the efforts are a fundamentally flawed result of serving too many masters.


Internet ad-network 24/7 Media Inc., New York, teamed with data company IntelliQuest to build a co-op database that will allow marketers to target Web surfers by demographics.


"We're going to build probably the largest aggregate profile database in the interactive environment," said Michael Rowsom, vice president of 24/7's data group.


To build the database, 24/7 will collect names and addresses from people who register on sites in its network, append demographic data from IntelliQuest's hi-tech household database to the files, then strip out the names.


"That way, we'll have a real-world profile that's anonymous," Rowsom said.


IntelliQuest has exclusive license to First Data Solutions' Donnelley lifestyle and demographic database in technology, telecommunications, cable and utilities. IntelliQuest also culls information with consumer permission from the more than 1 million hi-tech product registrations it processes per month. The company says it has more than 200 demographic and lifestyle variables on more than 100 million U.S. households.


"For people who want to go after technology savvy households, we're the only place where you can get valid data -- not modeled data, but people who have said, 'I have bought a computer and you can market to me,' " said Diane Stuckey, vice president of strategic marketing at IntelliQuest, Atlanta


24/7's database is slated to be available to online advertisers in January.


Meanwhile, ad network DoubleClick, New York, unveiled two cookie-based targeting products last week under the name Closed Loop Marketing Solutions. Cookies are bits of tracking information that sites place on a computer's hard drive to identify repeat visitors.


The first Closed Loop service, DoubleClick Databank, allows advertisers to track online consumers and analyze campaign data for not-so-obvious correlations. For instance, if people tend to buy two unrelated products at the same time, DataBank will help spot the trend.


The second Closed Loop service, DoubleClick Boomerang, allows advertisers to identify people who have visited their sites and serve advertising to them on other properties in the DoubleClick network of 2,900 sites.


Roy Schwedelson, CEO of list management firm Worldata, Boca Raton, FL, parent company of banner-placement firm WebConnect asked whose interests they are truly serving.


"The problem with a closed network is that they serve too many masters," he said. "[Besides advertisers], they have to serve all of the sites in their network. Any media buyer who's been in it for any length of time will tell you that there are always primary markets and secondary markets. [DoubleClick and 24/7 are] trying to take secondary-market Web sites and justify them as a primary market with rationalization coming from overlaying statistical data. If I want a golf site, I want to go to Golf.com, not a mutual funds site, even though most of those people probably golf."


David Rosenblatt, general manager of Closed Loop Marketing Solutions for DoubleClick, isn't buying Schwedelson's arguments.


"I reject the notion of a first- and second-tier site," he said. "You're not buying the site. You're buying your customer," he said. "First and second tier are subjective designations which are assigned relative to the objectives of marketers. General Motors does not advertise on Yahoo. Does that mean Yahoo is a second-tier site? Absolutely not. Yahoo is a first-tier site to most people. They're a second-tier site to this particular client."


Rowsom also took issue with Schwedelson's comments.


"Our objective is to help people reach targeted audiences no matter where they are, and direct response is a self-auditing business model," he said. "If we deliver ads that do not come within the range of what [the marketer] expects their cost-per-acquired customer to be, they're going to change the way they target their ads. They're going to test until their cost-per-acquired customer meets their goals."
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