Engage (www.engagetech.com) has created a database of anonymous demographic and psychographic characteristics of more than 10 million Internet users, tracked via cookie files.
Meanwhile, AdSmart (www.adsmart.net) has classified every page of the more than 90 sites in its network into about 450 content categories.
As a result, Engage is able to track surfers as they visit various sites in the network and compile detailed profiles of their interests based on the pages they have viewed, which AdSmart can then use for ad targeting purposes.
SERVE RELEVANT ADS IMMEDIATELY
"We can target users on what we call `first-time relevance,' " said Paul Schaut, president-CEO of Engage.
"With our system, from the first moment a visitor shows up at a sports site, we already know he's a baseball fan and can start serving relevant ads immediately," said Mr. Schaut.
Engage is making its database available to sites outside the AdSmart network as well. Lycos is already a customer of the service, and Engage will announce GeoCities, PlanetDirect and other customers at the Internet Expo in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 10, company executives said.
Dan Jaye, chief technical officer of Engage, said the system does not violate users' privacy, as the system does not track any personally identifiable information about users, such as names or e-mail addresses.
Different sites using Engage's database each assign a unique serial number to users, and only Engage matches those IDs across the system.
That way, pairs of sites, for example, could not cross reference their own databases to track individual users, even anonymously.