IQ News: AdAuction Sells An Alternative

AdAuction is betting that the live auction model isn’t the only way to hawk Internet ad space to media buyers.
Today the San Francisco-based company launches Opportunity Exchange, a 24-hour ad marketplace on the Web where inventory will be sold at a flat rate, first come, first serve. The company says this marks a first step toward a hybrid model that combines the dynamic pricing of auctions with around-the-clock availability.
Since its first auction in February 1998, the company’s MarketPlace and Tune-In real-time Web-based auctions have sold space from 160 sites ranging from Mountain View, Calif.-based Netscape to San Francisco-based search services Look-Smart and HotBot. Some 2,200 media buyers are registered.
AdAuction created Opportunity Exchange for busy buyers for whom live auctions can be inconvenient. Additionally, “There might be some unique things about the inventory–maybe a button or sponsorship–that might take a little longer to evaluate and understand than could be done in the auction situation,” said Neil Cohen, AdAuction’s senior vice president of business affairs.
In a month and a half the company hopes to launch a dynamic pricing component for the new offering. “Eventually, we’ll move to a 24-hour exchange all the time,” said Cohen, adding that Opportunity Exchange will initially account for 5 to 10 percent of the company’s volume.
Emily Lee, a media planner for USWeb/CKS, Cupertino, Calif., who has bought through AdAuction since its inception, hadn’t heard of the service but offered an enthusiastic response. Her AdAuction buying has been “on and off,” she said, “depending on whether things fell at the right time. This will be a lot easier.”
AdAuction today also introduced ProxyMan, software that will bid up to the media buyer’s pre-set maximum, so the buyer can participate in auctions without having to be online at the time.
Separately, AdAuction unveiled a $2.5 million print and online campaign aimed at advertisers and media planners via San Francisco shop Ingalls Moranville Advertising. The tagline: “Opportunity Clicks.”
–Susan Kuchinskas