NETWORK SOLUTIONS HIRES WEBNET: MEDIA-BUYING AGENCY CAPITALIZES ON NEED TO MONITOR ONLINE ADS

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Advancing its online advertising strategy, Network Solutions has selected Internet media agency webnet-marketing, Bethesda, Md., to handle its online media planning and buying following a review with undisclosed agencies.

U.S. Interactive, New York, which had handled the online media for the domain name registration company, will continue to handle its online creative. Last December Network Solutions launched its first online and offline ads including TV, print and radio.

"We spent the first six months [of the first advertising campaign] learning what did work and what didn't work," said Ben Turner, director of product marketing for Network Solutions. "Our target market is the small business market and that target is best reached online through a variety of different sites, not just those with a technology focus."

SITES WITH BETTER RESPONSE

Brayton Johnson, president of webnet (www.webnet-marketing.com), said some of the sites with better response rates for Network Solutions are community sites like theglobe.com and Tripod. Webnet's other clients include ad networks DoubleClick and 24/7; portals Excite and Infoseek; and media site for Ziff-Davis, ZDNet.

Network Solutions' more aggressive approach comes just before losing its exclusive National Science Foundation contract for registering domain names. Domain name registration will be competitive but details are still being worked out.

The new advertising and marketing push also includes global promotion. Mr. Turner said one of the advantages of using webnet is it allows Network Solutions to get daily reports and analysis and to make changes accordingly.

"We can start to see diminished performance in any given campaign the second it starts to happen. We can look, then make a decision on which ones we need to change. It's an optimization analysis," he said.

Other advertisers are also looking at media buying on the Web as a specialty service because of the importance of monitoring and controlling online campaigns, said Jim Nail, analyst with Forrester Research. According to Mr. Nail and several other industry executives, buys on the Web often end with discrepancies between the advertiser's impression count and the Web site's count.

"I've talked to people who say a 10% to 20% discrepancy is not unusual and they'll just go ahead and pay for it anyway," Mr. Nail said.

A 10% to 20% discrepancy tends to be widely accepted in the industry, said Drew Rayman, president of i33 Communications, New York, speaking at the Jupiter Online conference. However, he said he also finds himself going to the Web sites sometimes and fighting for make-goods when impression counts have differed by as much as 50% less than promised. As he pointed out, with that kind of difference, a $30 CPM can turn into a $60 CPM.

"Given all the nuances of Web ad buying, you can definitely get burned with some of the reporting," Mr. Nail said. "The media buying specialists are watching and I'm not so sure all agencies are."

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