IAR Bits and Bytes

San Francisco-based ad server ZEDO is making the unusual move of offering to serve unsold inventory at no cost.

That’s big news for most publishers, who typically have to eat the cost of unsold online advertising inventory in the course of their ASP subscriptions.

Generally, publishers stick house ads in place of unsold inventory in a bit to recoup a little of the cost (and to fill what could be empty space on their pages.) But ZEDO said the low overhead of its ad network allow it to offer to handle such ads for free.

The ad server, which said it serves 6 billion ads a month, also said it had signed contracts with StreamCast Networks, Boston Media and Shoxygen.com, Silicon India, Nutrio.

“The efficiency of ZEDO’s architecture allows ZEDO to provide the pricing and pricing structure that customers want,” said ZEDO chief executive Roy de Souza. “Publishers only pay ZEDO for ad serving when they are making money from the ads served — this is what our customers need to succeed in today’s market.”

Fuse, POPstick Team

Newburyport, Mass.-based agency Fuse will be working with rich media technology firm POPstick to deliver a co-branded online marketing product.

The product, dubbed the Fuse POPgram, will integrate Fuse’s creative services with Boston-based POPstick’s technology. The technology delivers personalized, Flash-based rich media creative via email, while capturing user information and tracking results.

Because POPgram creatives can be segmented based on a host of opted-in criteria, the firms say the product typically generates response rates three times higher than email.

The arrangement is POPstick’s first joint marketing alliance with an advertising and creative services agency. Fuse will provide the front-end strategy, creative services and project management, while POPstick will manage campaign serving and tracking. POPstick will in turn offer Fuse’s full-service agency capabilities to its existing and potential clients.

For its part, Fuse said it would immediately begin offering Fuse POPgrams to existing and potential clients.

Poindexter Launches Flagship Product

Alley-based ad optimization firm Poindexter Systems this week took this wraps off its chief ASP product, Progressive Optimization Engine.

The company’s product, also known as POE, segments online consumers and delivers optimized ad creative to each. POE using associative modeling and other math-heavy techniques to develop anonymous profiles of Web surfers, based chiefly on their viewing of clients’ ads. Data used in segmenting are culled each time a clients’ ad is viewed, and is refined as the campaign continues.

That data is used to group surfers into segments based on metrics including location, time of day, demographic and frequency. By segmenting, Poindexter said that its clients have seen improvements in campaign performance of 75 percent to 150 percent.

The three-year-old company’s clients include Hotwire and Critical Mass.

NowMarketing Inks NBC Pact

New York-based NowMarketing has signed a deal with NBC to use its wireless marketing product.

The firm’s NowCode service will be used in NBC’s upcoming sweepstakes during the Winter Olympics. The product lets consumers request more information about television ads by dialing “#NOW” on their cell phones. The product information arrives by email.

Once consumers receive the email, they fill out a short registration page to enter the contest.

Currently, the NBC Agency — the in-house agency for the General Electric-owned television network — will promote the #NOW call-to-action in print, television and radio ads for the networks’ upcoming sweepstakes.

While similar efforts geared toward radio have all but flopped, NowMarketing touts the easy-to-remember dialing code, quick transaction time, and the ubiquity of the cell phone. (Previous efforts, like those launched by Sony, required the purchase of a special device.)

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