Internet ad space auction off to a slow start

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Web startup Adbot on Thursday held its first open-outcry auction of Internet ad space. Although about 117 million impressions from a total of 90 sites were scheduled for auction, only about one-quarter of the impressions actually sold. Adbot executives grouped the impressions in six categories: business and finance, sports and leisure, computers and Internet, arts, search engines and e-mail impressions.

Participating sites, which included USA.Net, Four11 and search engine Rex, agreed to open bidding at $5 per thousand impressions. While the bulk of the impressions that sold did so at a $5 CPM, there were 3 million impressions in the search engine category that sold lower than bidding price, at a $2.50 CPM. Sites have the option to decline to accept rates if lower than $5.

All of the bidding was executed via the telephone by seven Adbot brokers who represented a total of 18 agencies and advertisers. Any agency or advertiser can buy the auction's unsold inventory for the next two business days.

"We expect most if not all of the inventory to be sold in the next two days," said Jim Frith, president of Adbot. "Many people were hesitant to participate in this first auction but expressed interest in picking up impressions after the actual auction occurred, at a guaranteed rate of $5 per thousand impressions. . . . It'll take some time to build interest around the auctions, but we're confident in the model."

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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