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Real media, focused on repping a network of newspaper sites, is reorganizing its network to include sites for travel, personal finance and other vertical segments. Doing so puts the New York-based company in direct competition with DoubleClick, 24/7 Media and other online ad networks.

"We have every intention of being competitive in the bigger pond and investing whatever resources are necessary to be a strong competitor in every major advertising market in the world," said Dave Morgan, president. "We expect that our local media base, our commitment to premium-branded content sites for vertical-site partners and our strong partnership with PubliGroupe, the world's largest print advertising sales rep, will help us achieve that market position."

Advertiser demand spurred the strategy shift, Mr. Morgan said. "Many were buying our local network in vertical segments and they frequently requested vertical sites that could match specific types of content or lifestyles."

Real Media's new vertical offerings also will include networks for multicultural information; news and information; small business; doctors and lawyers; college students; home and living; big events; and syndication. Web sites that have signed on to be part of the networks include Gannet Co.'s USA Today's and American Express Publishing's Travel & Leisure's sites.


Real Media is promoting its new business model with teaser ads that launch today; the full trade print campaign rolls out Oct. 11. Spending on the three-month campaign, created by Mezzina/Brown, New York, is $2.5 million and sports a new logo, created by Lot 21, San Francisco, which also developed the campaign's online component.

Real Media, founded in 1995, represents 1,000 newspaper and local news sites worldwide, including about 550 U.S. papers such as The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. But during the past four years, it has expanded abroad to rep non-newspaper sites. Real Media, for example, represents Excite@Home exclusively in France and Germany, and Yahoo! in Switzerland.

The company also has repped a few vertical sites in the U.S. through Real Media Select, Mr. Morgan said. Now, it's using its experience to court Web sites dissatisfied with other networks.

"Many vertical Web sites are frustrated by the low [cost per thousand impressions] delivered by most Internet ad networks, not to mention they don't like having their brand hidden underneath the network brand," Mr. Morgan said.

"This is absolutely a wise move on their part," said Jim Nail, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Right now, there are essentially five networks -- DoubleClick, 24/7 Media, Real Media, Adsmart and Flycast -- and Real Media has a very strong reputation in the marketplace. Everyone I talk to, both on the Web publisher and advertiser sides, likes them, thinks they're professional and do a good job. The world of newspaper sites was too limiting for them."


With its reputation and financial backing, Real Media will be a strong competitor to DoubleClick, Mr. Nail added.

"They have shown a lot of understanding of how to package media," Mr. Nail said. "I've always seen them as a dark horse and knew it was only a matter of time

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