RealNetworks focuses on multimedia Web sites

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RealNetworks hopes to see advertising across the Internet feature real-time audio and video. But for now, it's focusing on getting more multimedia ads on sites that already have strong multimedia content.

In an effort to expand such multimedia--or streaming--advertising beyond RealNetworks' showcase Web sites, it will announce on June 16 a series of agreements with Web sites, Web ad-serving companies and ad auditing services to get more sight and sound into Web advertising.

RealNetworks' logic is simple: PC users who have sought out sites with interesting audio and video content are the best prospects for ads delivering multimedia twists, such as banner ads featuring audio or video.

"You put those banners where you have the content," said Jeff Lehman, VP-advertising sales at RealNetworks, the dominant provider of Web software that delivers real-time audio and video.

LINKING UP WITH PARTNERS

One key RealNetworks initiative is the Site Partner Program, consisting of some two dozen sites already committed to promoting streaming ads. The varied list includes Buena Vista Internet Group, Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, New York Times on the Web and Rolling Stone Network.

RealNetworks will promote participants in the Site Partner Program to ad and interactive agencies in its existing Real Agencies Affiliates Program, which also promotes real-time technology.

Also, RealNetworks will announce a strategic marketing initiative with New York-based 24/7 Media, a leading Web site ad rep company, in which 24/7 will create a network of sites that agree to place streaming ads in areas of sites with streaming content.

COMMITMENTS FROM SEVEN

RealNetworks has secured commitments from seven ad-serving software companies, which handle distribution of Web content. It's also reached agreement with ad auditors ABC Interactive, BPA International and I/PRO to track and validate streaming Web ads.

Many big marketers, including General Motors Corp.'s Buick, Levi Strauss & Co. and Reebok International, have run ads using RealNetworks' technology, but such ads aren't common yet.

Mr. Lehman said banner ads with audio generated an average 5% click-through rate vs. about 2% for flat banner ads last year.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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