Ad cacheing solution proposed

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NetGravity and inCommon will announce Thursday at Internet World a technical partnership that will help advertisers, in at least a small way, track the estimated 25% or more of online ad impressions obscured by proxy caching servers. inCommon has adapted its client/server "push" software, Downtown, to report user ad impressions to NetGravity's AdServer on sites running both companies' servers. Whereas existing ad management tools track users based only on Web server activity, Downtown's client application feeds information back to the Downtown server directly from the users' desktops.

As a result, it can report ad impressions and other user activity that presently gets trapped by proxy caching servers used by many corporations and ISPs to reduce bandwidth loads. While the issue of cacheing vexes the online ad industry, the NetGravity-inCommon integration is unlikely to offer large-scale relief immediately. Downtown is still in beta until at least April, with only approximately 30,000 end-users now testing it, according to inCommon. Both companies say the deal is non-exclusive and they hope their approach will be adopted as an industry standard.

Downtown's main function is to forward lightweight HTML channels to subscribers with updates from selected Web sites. Current beta sites include Yahoo!, TechWeb, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. The Downtown server will cost content providers $10,000, plus $1 per end-user per year; the client application is free to end-users.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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