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New Ad Networks Look to Targeting's Future

As 24/7 Media, Engage Inc. and other ad targeting networks struggle to survive in the shrinking online advertising market, two companies are betting that services beyond just serving banner ads are the secret to success.

Macromedia Inc., San Francisco, and Cuica Corp., Menlo Park, CA, believe there is life left in the ad serving market and have separately established networks.

Best known as the marketer of Flash animation software, Macromedia formed the Macromedia Flash Advertising Alliance to build standard practices around the software and to promote its use in rich media advertising. Among the charter members of the alliance, which can be accessed at www.macromedia.com/solutions/richmedia/mfaa/, are America Online, CNET, DoubleClick Inc., 24/7 Media, Engage Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.

To help better track ads that are made using Flash, the MFAA created the Macromedia Flash Tracking Kit so advertisers can track click-through and other elements of Flash-based ads. Macromedia said DoubleClick, Engage, L90, TargetNet and 24/7 Media have pledged their support for the tracking kit.

“We created the alliance to ensure [that] advertisers have a consistent delivery platform to effectively communicate their brands online,” said Tom Hale, Macromedia's senior vice president for product marketing. “Rich media advertising delivers engaging user experiences and great return on investment for advertisers.”

In addition, Macromedia worked with DoubleClick to establish the Rich Media Advertising Resource Center at www.macromedia.com/solutions/richmedia, featuring case studies and other educational materials about successful rich media campaigns.

Claiming click-through rates of 0.5 percent to 4 percent, Cuica Corp. said its CuicaExchange automates the process for ad buyers and sellers.

The company said using the exchange is easy. The content site or seller signs up with Cuica, tags the pages they want sold and sets their category and minimum payment requirements.

“Using our exchange, advertisers are assured that their ad is placed within relevant content and sites can sell their specific unsold inventory at the optimal price,” said Eduardo Llach, Cuica's CEO.

Teri Clayton, Cuica's vice president of marketing, said the company does not consider itself a competitor of companies such as 24/7 Media and Engage, but rather as a complementary service. In fact, she said, Cuica is negotiating with these companies to establish a relationship.

“We can target ads very deeply,” Clayton said. “For instance, instead of just targeting sports sites, we can target down to sports accessories and deeper.”

She noted that Cuica has about 8,000 deals now and advertisers are getting 7 million to 10 million impressions per day.

The company also formed an alliance with Inktomi Corp. this month. CuicaExchange is now live with ad deals from Inktomi merchant network partners. Clayton said CuicaExchange can sell ad impressions of targeted, low-volume inventory.

“We provide the tools to create ads on all sides,” she said. “We can create smaller ad spaces and place advertising in the spot where it will generate the greatest return.”

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