Content, commerce fuel real-time ads

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In the interactive ad network world, a new niche market serving real-time banners is growing, fueled by demand for time-sensitive content and commerce .

Flycast Communications Corp. is tapping the niche for electronic commerce companies that have limited inventory, such as auction site eMarketLive and Internet Shopping Network; and content sites scheduled for specialty time slots, such as Boxing.com.

Flycast represents more than 400 Web sites.

Rick Thompson, Flycast VP-client services, said about 20% of the company's placements are in real time. Real-time media placement allows users to change banners, view ad results and offer time-limited deals or promotions.

However, said Mr. Thompson, about 60% of Flycast customers use that capability to optimize advertising, such as changing banners that aren't working or switching sites that aren't producing results.

RIGHT PEOPLE, RIGHT TIME

"I think there's tremendous value there," he said. "We can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time."

Multimedia Marketing Group uses Flycast mostly to test banners, although a few commerce clients use it for specific time-of-day advertising, said VP-Advertising J.P. Audette.

Within a couple of hours, Multimedia can extrapolate results using 50,000 to 100,000 impressions from a run-of-network test.

"You can watch the results in real time and if the banner, after 20,000 to 30,000 impressions, has abysmally low click-through rates, well, it's probably not going to get any better," Mr. Audette said.

Working directly with content sites can be a hassle, he said. Most sites don't have the real-time capabilities of Flycast, insertion orders often have to be changed and many sites don't want to make frequent switches.

THE REAL QUESTION

Jupiter Communications Analyst Evan Neufeld said the Flycast model, like real-time competitor Narrowline, is still in the developmental stage and may or may not evolve into more. Narrowline, he said, has taken a different angle, focusing on real-time audience response and consumer behavior. "My question about real-time buying is does anybody really care? The huge potential it offers has not been tapped yet.... It's a great big-picture idea, but you're building something ahead of the curve and in your business plan you have to be willing to take that risk."

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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