Dave Morgan, who had headed Real Media since the privately held company
"I know the idea of starting a new Internet company runs counter to current Street wisdom," Mr. Morgan said in an interview with AdAge.com, "but there really are opportunities still out there for those who can see them."
Headquartered in New York, Real Media has 420 employees in 25 offices in 17 countries. It provides online ad-serving networking and related services to more than 1,000 Web sites including those of The New York Times, The Times of London, France's Le Mond and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.
Throughout late 2000 and early 2001, Real Media underwent a reorganization after PubliGroupe, the Swiss media conglomerate that acquired a 29% stake in the company in 1999, increased its holdings to 80%. Morgan said he remains the single largest non-corporate stockholder of Real Media.
In late December, in the face of collapsing market interest in Internet companies, Real Media withdrew its plans for an initial public offering, laid off 50 of its U.S. workers and announced the resignation of its CEO. Walter Annasohn, a PubliGroupe senior vice president, was named new CEO and president.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Mr. Annasohn said, "Dave Morgan was the chief architect of what Real Media has become."
Interestingly, what Real Media's core ad serving system, Open AdStream, never became was a method for profiling Web users, thereby avoiding the privacy controversies that have plagued other ad-serving companies such as DoubleClick.
Mr. Morgan said his new company will create and offer new stand-alone technologies for compiling profiles of Web site users.
"There is an opportunity to give media sellers, media companies and Web site owners new kinds of tools to collect and manage data about their audiences and create a lot more value in the way they interact with advertisers," he said. "I think the industry is just beginning to understand that the real inventory of a Web site is its audience, not its page views or impressions. And you win audiences one by one.
"Today's larger Web publishers' relationships with users in various, separate digital applications like wireless and Web sites. They need to be building coherent profiles with data collected from all platforms and applications through which they interact with that same individual," he said.
"For instance, I don't think much of selling an ad on a wireless device, but if I can identify wireless users when they come to my Web site, I have identified incredibly valuable prospects.
"My new system tracks users and profiles them in a way that allows the individual media publisher to own the data without having to share it with some service bureau," Mr. Morgan expalined. "Then, it enables the publisher to utilize the information to target its ad server against that data on the Web and for other purposes, such as coordinatingt e-mail campaigns."
But does he think the world is ready -- or even much interested -- in new online marketing applications in the midst of the current dot-com catastrophe?
Core of all mass media
"There is no question in my mind," Mr. Morgan said, "that this is a temporary downturn or that the Internet will become the core of all mass media and the digital backbone that links all those media companies at the backend. In effect, it will be the 'operating system' for managing the marketing databases throughout traditional print and broadcast as well as online enterprises.
"When you've been in this field for as long as I have and know media and advertising from the inside, you can clearly see that despite all that has happened, this is an enormous market already. The Internet is more powerful than anything we've every worked with, and my plans are to stay with it."