Engage Solidifies Relationship with Unicast

CMGI ad serving and technology company Engage will offer Unicast‘s Superstitial technology across all of its divisions, the companies said Monday.

The deal enlarges and makes official the company’s de facto and occasionally unofficial relationship with Unicast, and that company’s Superstitial interstitial streaming advertising format.

In October 1999, Unicast began offering the Superstitial by way of ad serving network Flycast Communications, which Engage acquired and renamed “Engage Media” in January. A host of internal Engage reorganizations followed, with the Superstitial being offered by some groups at some times, Engage spokespeople said.

Monday’s agreement thus cements the companies’ relationship, with Engage’s B2B network and technology divisions offering Superstitial products and support

“The Superstitial is now fully incorporated across all of Engage’s business units,” said Unicast corporate communications director Hilary Fadner. “This strengthens and solidifies our mutual commitment to one another as companies. Engage can now handle everything to do with the Superstitial.”

Through the deal, Engage Business Media will handle the serving, tracking and optimization of Superstitial ads for its 225 vertical sites, while Engage Enabling Technologies will offer back-end and outsourced support for the technology.

“By offering Superstitials across multiple Engage divisions, we can now reach out across the B2C and B2B media markets and the site-specific market with a premium rich media advertising solution,” said Engage president and chief executive officer Paul Schaut.

Rich media ads like the Superstitial are becoming increasingly en vogue among marketers looking to move away from traditional banner ads. Unicast’s Superstitial and its competition — Net-mercial‘s eponymously named product, for one — typically return a fairly high clickthrough rate.

The deal makes Engage’s company-wide offerings officially similar to those of the other top ad networks, including DoubleClick and 24/7 Media, both of which have for some time offered the Superstitial across various divisions.

Nevertheless, rich media interstitials comprise a very small minority of online advertising, with the ads being sold and served far less than the ubiquitous banner ad. Unicast is banking that deals like Monday’s, and recent agreements like that with ad network ad pepper media to enable Superstitial distribution on the company’s European network, will boost visibility among marketers, and hence, sales.

In a separate announcement, Unicast said that Internet sports content company CBS Sportsline.com will launch a Superstitial ad campaign to drive traffic to its free Commissioner.com fantasy football game. Sportsline.com said its experience as a publisher of Superstitials, which it has carried for a number of years, contributed to its decision to launch a campaign using the technology.

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