Engage Helps Advertisers Fish for Best Prospects

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Event Summary

Engage (Nasdaq: 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.

Market Impact

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.

AudienceNet 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.

User Recommendations

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).

Advertising 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.

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