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In a major step forward for personalizing the Web, several measurement and ad management companies have agreed to support a standard way of delivering targeted advertising and information.

Web measurement providers Internet Profiles Corp. and Accrue and ad management companies NetGravity and RealMedia will use intelligent agent software from Firefly Network ( to deliver personalized ads and Web traffic reporting.

Participating sites will use Firefly's Passport software to register visitors and build individual profiles based on visitors' activity on a site. Other Passport-enabled sites will be able to recognize users with Passports and offer them customized information and personalized ads.

Yahoo!, Reuters and Ziff-Davis Publishing Co.'s ZD Net have been testing the technology, which Firefly will license to sites.


"Where I believe 1997 is going to take us is to more highly targeted advertising-getting closer to one-to-one advertising," said John Danner, president of NetGravity.

Marketers and publishers are only now realizing the potential for targeting via the Web.

Companies like DoubleClick, which operates an advertising network, offer targeted ads based on domain name, time of day and browser type, but the Firefly system, which the company has tested on its own music and movies site ( for several months, can target by personal interests as well.

Firefly users provide basic demographic information, such as age, gender, ZIP code and e-mail address. As they traverse a site, entering different content areas and rating their interests, that information is added to a user profile.

Firefly will protect users' privacy by not revealing a person's name or e-mail address to third parties, such as advertisers.

"At the end of the day, the advertiser wants to know what's this person like, not what is he called," said Saul Klein, VP-marketing at Firefly.

Others have tried similar registration services with mixed success. I/Pro shelved its I/Code system earlier this year and is now supporting the Firefly initiative, among others. I/Pro will use Firefly software to enhance its traffic reporting services.

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