AQuantive Enters Behavioral Targeting Space

NEW YORK AQuantive, parent to Avenue A, i-Frontier and Atlas DMT, today launched a new division that will buy ad inventory from online publishers and resell it to advertisers based on Web surfers’ past behavior, demographic makeup and geographic location, among other factors.

Called DRIVEpm (performance marketing), the Seattle-based unit will buy blocks of unsold or undervalued online ad inventory on a CPM or revenue-share basis from Web publishers. It will then define the audience for that media using anonymous data, such as users’ prior site behavior, purchase actions, demographics, geography and modem speeds, and sell that specific target to marketers on a cost-per-action, cost-per-click or CPM basis.

DRIVEpm looks to benefit from advertisers’ growing interest in behavioral targeting, which allows publishers to serve ads to online readers based on their past surfing behavior. According to a March 2004 Jupiter Research report, only 10 percent of advertisers are using behavioral targeting in their online ad campaigns, but 40-50 percent said they are optimistic about its potential.

Publishers have taken note, as several, including Primedia’s About and WSJ.com, have started to offer behavioral targeting through Tacoda Systems and Revenue Science.

DRIVEpm’s debut comes after five months of testing with publishers, advertisers and agencies, like Tribune Interactive, Best Buy and Modem Media. Scott Howe, 36, formerly Avenue A general manager, will head up the unit, which currently has less than a dozen staffers. He will report to aQuantive chief financial officer Mike Vernon.

“DRIVEpm helps eliminate [advertising] waste through its targeting capabilities, and in turn, publishers realize fair value for their inventory, advertisers obtain better results and consumers benefit from a more relevant, quality surfing experience,” said Howe.

An aQuantive representative said that the company does not expect a significant impact from the DRIVEpm on its 2004 financials because it is relatively new.