Accipiter Snags Behavioral Targeting Client

Hearkening back to its past to latch onto a new trend, ad management firm Accipiter will provide behavioral targeting to a division of the Washington Post Company.

Accipiter, best known as an ad serving provider, launched its behavioral targeting application, Visitor Interest Behavioral Targeting Engine (VIBE) in November 2003 and is expected to announce its first client, PostNewsweek, Tuesday. PostNewsweek is the Washington Post Company division that focuses on government IT publishing. Accipiter has several other clients it has not yet made public, and the U.S. team signed up three customers in the last three months, company executives said.

By combining behavioral targeting with ad serving, the 27-employee Accipiter is jumping into the ring with 24/7 Real Media. In mid-March, the ad technology and media company launched a behavior targeting product to be used in conjunction with its analytics and ad serving offerings. Later, it rolled out behaviorally targeted ad packages on its 700-site advertising network.

Until 24/7 made its entrance, behavior targeting had two notable players, Tacoda and Revenue Science, neither of which offer ad serving. Behavioral targeting capitalizes on “hand-raising” behavior, where the user indicates an interest in a good or service by behavior such as repeatedly visiting a given area of a Web site.

The field is currently heating up, a phenomenon reminiscent of the late 1990s, when behavior targeting was also the rage. One of its primary practitioners was Engage, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2003. Accipiter has arisen from the ashes of Engage.

The company had been purchased by CMGI and merged with Engage in 1998. In 2002, the Accipiter management team bought back the company from Engage and re-launched as an ad serving company, then unveiled VIBE in November 2003.

“We saw what did and didn’t work with Engage’s Profile Server,” said Brian Handley, Accipiter’s CEO, “so we structured it to be flexible for customers’ needs.”

New client PostNewsweek has a network of sites dealing with government information technology. VIBE will allow PostNewsweek to display ads related to content in which a user has shown interest as the user moves around PostNewsweek’s sites.

“Our advertisers are very excited about the promise of new advertising opportunities,” to be identified by VIBE, said Alec Cann, senior VP of Internet publishing for PostNewsweek.

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