IAR Bits and Bytes

INT Media Boosts Ad Offerings

INT Media Group — which owns internet.com, the parent of internetnews.com — is rolling out a new ad format aimed at attracting new advertiser dollars, but also in an effort to accommodate the spate of differing ad formats that currently exist.

The new unit — dubbed “LEO” — is a 750-by-100 pixel area designed to appear at the top of Web pages on the internet.com Network and on EarthWeb, also owned by INT Media.

Like many publishers, the company is moving to adopt new ad formats as advertisers seek better ways to express their messages than the ubiquitous 640-by-480 banner.

“The move acknowledges that marketers are asking for larger ad sizes, both to create branding messages and to get direct response,” said INT Media vice president and general manager Chris Elwell. “These sizes have proven better at doing just that. We said, ‘Hey, the market’s demanding it, and we’re going to react to the market and essentially retool 160 Web sites in order to handle it. And we did it in less than 6 weeks.”

But Elwell said the LEO ad unit also would incorporate existing banner creatives. That approach is similar to the one the company is taking with its current advertising offerings — a 360-by-300 rectangle, and a 125-by-800 skyscraper — which are designed to accommodate other, slightly differing ad sizes, like those approved by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“One of the challenges we faced … is that there are many more standard sizes now than there had been,” Elwell said. “And one of the considerations of the project we just undertook was how to accommodate most of those sizes on the sites in the network. The flexibility of the LEO, rectangle and skyscrapers was really important to what we did.”

That effort aims to address a recent problem facing Web publishers. While the new, larger ad units are designed to capture advertiser (and consumer) attention, the sheer number of formats now — including seven new units sanctioned by the IAB — creates a problem for publishers and advertisers: now, they must tweak creatives and Web page layout to conform to a whole range of units, rather than just the banner format.

“For clients who produce banners, and the various sizes of banners … we won’t be asking them to create new creative,” Elwell said. “That was one of the principal objectives — to achieve the flexibility that we think we’ve achieved.”

Lexus Signs “Conquest” Ad Deal With Edmunds.com

Online car information site Edmunds.com Tuesday says it has entered into a one-year ad contract with luxury car manufacturer Lexus.

Now, while that may not be enough news to wrap your fish with, the companies also point out that Lexus will be one of Edmunds’ first advertisers to purchase “conquest” ads on its competitors’ model-specific pages.

A conquest ad, in this case, is an advertisement that steals away consumers by offering ads on pages that give information about similar products.

“For example, you could be looking into buying a Volvo and there on the page are small advertisements for another advertiser, in this case Lexus,” said Edmunds’ director of corporate communications Jeannine Fallon.

But, unlike traditional Web advertising, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Edmunds.com said its message units stay within the site.

In addition, the four-inch ad boxes allow users to decide how much of the ad they’d like to see.

Lexus ads will also appear in conjunction with Edmunds.com’s vehicle comparison tables, which allow a visitor to select and compare vehicles of personal interest or on models that Edmunds.com has selected as competitive with each other.

“Some of the other car makers were mad at us for selling the space to competitors, but the ones that buy up the space are doing so on specifically targeted portions early in the research of buying a type of car,” Fallon said.

While competing companies have used the tactic of buying ad space to outshine each other in the past, Edmunds.com says this is the first time that it has officially used this type of approach within its site.

In addition, the company says it will host Lexus advertising on its wireless Web site known as Edmunds2Go!

24/7 Media to Try Reverse Stock Split

Struggling interactive marketing company 24/7 Media is planning a reverse stock split in order to maintain its listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The company’s stock price, which was at 16 cents during early trading on the Nasdaq Wednesday, slipped below the benchmark $1 level on March 6th of this year. With continued losses in the face of the downturn in advertising dollars in general, and online ad dollars in particular, the New York company’s stock price has been sliding steadily since the first quarter. On July 6th, the Nasdaq sent its pending delisting letter.

If the company’s board of directors and stockholders approve the reverse split, the company could get its price back above the $1 mark and remain listed on the Nasdaq.

The company said it expects to know in about two weeks when it could hold a meeting of stockholders in order to vote on the proposal.

Reverse splits are becoming somewhat routine among new economy stocks that are now struggling with depressed prices. In some cases, a split has been successful in getting their prices above the $1 mark only for a short time until they slip again.

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