ENGA) announced a new service called AudienceNet that allows advertisers using
its Engage ad network to target ads to users based on anonymous profiles. The
company claims a database of 35 million consumer profiles.
Engage is member
of the CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) family of companies, and is a cornerstone in its
advertising tournament with DoubleClick. Engage claims that AudienceNet is fundamentally
different from existing ad models, saying that it lets advertisers target ads
to an individual desktop based on profiles that contain information about a
consumer's preferences, including the "frequency, recency and duration" of visits.
is based on consumer profiles built with data collected from more than 400 consumer
sites over a number of years. It allows advertisers to identify individual surfers
based on cookies dropped onto their computers. These cookies point to profiles
in Engage's database. AudienceNet uses those data to select an ad to show to
a particular surfer. The criteria include the surfer's previous clickthroughs,
time spent on pages with specific content among the 400 sites, and interests
in more than 800 specific categories.
It is important
to note that AudienceNet can, according to a company spokesperson, be used even
by companies and advertisers that do not use one of the ad serving solutions
offered by Engage of its parent, CMGI. This makes the product particularly useful
for sites with excess ad inventory, because they can call upon AudienceNet for
ad impressions that they can not serve from their own stock. In this case AudienceNet
is similar to the Flycast network, and would be a competitor to it if Flycast
had not been purchased recently by CMGI (See TEC Technology Research Note: "'Ads
Are Us' Boasts CMGI" October 7th, 1999).
solutions are properly acquired by collaboration between Sales, Marketing and
IT departments. AudienceNet is a functionality that will appeal to the business
side. It should be examined for performance implications by the technologists,
although when used to supplement an existing ad serving solution, its performance,
whether superior or inferior to the existing solution, will probably not have
much of an effect. Since Excite and CMGI will attempt to leverage interest in
AudienceNet into sales of other products, we caution that a total technical
evaluation of the entire package must be performed before making a selection.