Salt Lake City-based target="blank">MediaForge, a five-year-old widget company that has moved into dynamic banner advertising, is going public with a system that bills advertisers only after customers verifiably interact with online ads and later return to make a purchase.
The "post-engagement-based platform" differs from many traditional retargeting systems that are based on the simple view-through model, said MediaForge President Tony Zito, who listed Dotomi and FetchBack as two competitors in the retargeting world. In the standard view-through arrangement, impressions are credited when people who are merely served an online ad subsequently go to a retailer's Web site to make purchases. Advertisers using MediaForge's platform are not charged unless the purchasers mouse-over or click on the ads at some point prior to buying a product or service.
A pre-launch adopter of MediaForge's platform, girls' clothing retailer Charlotte Russe, is so far "absolutely pleased" with the results, said Paul Hollowell, the company's interactive marketing manager. "We use other targeting methods right now, " Hollowell said. "MediaForge is an additional layer we added in."
Hollowell and Zito said the MediaForge platform drops cookies on the computers of people who visit CharlotteRusse.com. The system then can deliver Charlotte Russe ads when the person is searching or surfing elsewhere on the Web. If the person interacts in any way with the Charlotte Russe ad and subsequently makes a purchase from the company's site, Charlotte Russe is charged.
Hollowell said he likes the interactivity of the ads, noting they allow prospective customers to browse his company's products without leaving the site they are on. However, customers must go to CharlotteRusse.com to make purchases.
"They only take credit for those customers that made purchases after [engaging with an ad], and that's different from many display media vendors who will take partial credit from customers who just see the ads ... What we like about MediaForge is there's actual proof that the customer interacted with the ad, so there's a lot less based on faith," Hollowell said.
He stressed that traditional view-through systems are not without merit. Studies have proven that "there is a distinctive lift for customers who viewed an ad even if they didn't interact with it," Hollowell said. "I think that there's room for multiple different types of ads. What will end up happening is the more effective ads will end up supplanting the less effective ads."
Although Hollowell noted interactive ads have a higher ROI than non-interactive ads, he said it's unlikely technology such as that being offered by MediaForge will mark the end of simple display ads based on the view-through payment method. "There will always be a place for more traditional ads that are about showing a customer a brand experience and not necessarily about direct-response shopping," said Hollowell.
Zito said the post-engagement-model pricing for MediaForge ads is similar to what advertisers are paying for other post-impression and view-through ads. He said all ad creation is done in-house by his staff.
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