AdZone joins fray to count online ads

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An online ad-measurement service launches today, billing itself as a more comprehensive, more accurate and more efficient alternative to existing services.

New York-based AdZone Interactive sees its competitors as AdRelevance, a division of Media Metrix, and CMRinteractive, a division of Competitive Media Reporting, among others.

CMRinteractive alumnus John Cardona incorporated the privately held company four months ago. Mr. Cardona formerly was sales director for CMRinteractive, which tracks online ad revenue. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Internet investor the Regency Group has backed AdZone, which debuts with a May tracking report on ads running on more than 1,300 sites. It actually tracks 4,000 sites, but doesn't produce reports on those that have minimal ad revenue.

AdRelevance claims it searches more than 3,000 unique URLs a week; CMRinteractive said it tracks more than 330 sites.

AdZone said its proprietary technology enables it to track Web advertising--including banners, text ads, keywords, links, buttons, pop-ups and interstitials--and deliver reports to clients within 24 hours. Its latest data show online ad spending hit $1.2 billion in May.

AdRelevance said it updates online ad data weekly; CMRinteractive's latest data available is January.

CURRENT CUSTOMERS

AdZone measures advertising on sites such as AOL.com, About.com, AutoTrader.com, BabyCenter, BigYellow, CBS SportsLine, iVillage, Lycos, Register.com, RollingStone.com, TheStreet.com, Wall Street Journal Interactive and Latin American portal Yupi.com. AdZone tracks ad revenue on individual sites as well as advertisers' online expenditures.

"[We assess] who were the big spenders on the Web from an ad perspective, then we flip it around and ask who had the biggest ad revenue," said Mr. Cardona, president. The company also tracks total online ad impressions.

AdZone looks at computer code behind banners and other types of online ads and crosses that information with a database based on sites' rate cards. It then makes that information accessible via a password-protected Web site. Cost for a one-year subscription starts at $50,000 and is based on company size.

"We can take that information and deliver it to clients as quickly as the banners run. Anyone can purchase the data and we can monitor any site without their authorizing us to," Mr. Cardona added.

95% OF ONLINE SPENDING

To compete with AdRelevance and CMRinteractive, Mr. Cardona said AdZone's strength is measuring ads on more than 1,300 sites, which combined account for 95% of all online ad spending.

"The number of sites that we measure is tremendously larger than anyone else out there. The other companies might measure [fewer] sites, so they are missing a significant amount of dollars and they are missing ads being placed on Web sites," Mr. Cardona said.

But a scan reveals the company is measuring not just sites but, more specifically, URLs representing specific areas of a site. For example, the company measures not just www.yahoo.com, but also www.shopping.yahoo.com and www.mail.yahoo.com.

Though to say the company is measuring 1,300 sites may be "marketing fluff," it's a good approach, said Jim Nail, Forrester Research senior analyst, especially for advertisers interested in finding the best areas in which to place ads.

The company's singular focus on online advertising also is a strength, Mr. Cardona said.

CMR and others devote most resources to tracking traditional media, said Jim Robertson, exec VP-ad sales at AdZone. "All our efforts are concentrated strictly on the Internet."

But Mr. Nail said the singular focus is actually a detriment. "To do a really intelligent media plan," measurement companies need to integrate site traffic with online and offline advertising data.

DATA INTEGRATION

AdRelevance is beginning to integrate online and offline data through parent Media Metrix, Mr. Nail said. "CMR should be beating the hell out of all of them because they have online and offline data, but they aren't doing much to integrate [the data]," he added.

In related news, AdRelevance today releases a study showing so-called house advertising--ads by publishers on their own sites--accounts for almost 20% of available online inventory and 18.5% of impressions. AdRelevance examined house advertising on 500 of the highest-trafficked, ad-supported sites between January and April.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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