's first auction

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Both organizers and participants report they were pleased with the results of the first real-time auction of Web ad impressions, held Feb. 19 by the San Francisco start-up company

"It was my first experience with [buying ads in an auction] and we found it very intriguing," said Ched Hoover, director of marketing at Atlanta Internet Bank, which bought 100,000 impressions on the Zip2 travel site for a $6.50 cost per thousand impressions, less than half that site's normal ad rate.

"We did more than double our first-month revenue projection on this first auction," said David Wamsley, founder and CEO of The auction, which comprising 40 publishers and a fixed ceiling of 30 bidders, including representatives from many leading interactive advertising agencies, was open for Web-based bidding throughout most of the day Thursday. "There was a flurry of bidding at the end of the day," Mr. Wamsley said.

In all, the auction moved nearly 11.5 million of the 14 million impressions offered, or 40 of the 64 available lots. Cost-per-thousand impression ad rates started at $5 and averaged $6 across all the lots sold. The college category of sites averaged a $9 CPM, and the Latino Link ethnic site fetched an $8 CPM for one of its blocks.

"We didn't buy any of our own lots," Mr. Wamsley said, referring to a practice employed by Adbot, another Web ad auction service that closed down late last year following an investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission into its owner's financial activities in another of his companies.

Publishers appeared pleased with the results as well. Joe Witherspoon, online product manager at Internet Travel Network, said, "We did very well. We sold a total of 625,000 impressions in three separate lots and averaged a $6.50 CPM. We've tried other services similar to this [to sell remnant ad space] and were not happy with the CPM we got," he said, noting the site's experiments with the FlyCast ad network realized CPM rates of around $1 or $2. Internet Travel Network typically sells its run-of-site ad space for a $35 CPM and sells 70%-80% of its available inventory, Mr. Witherspoon said.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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