Mailblocks Launches Web Ad Campaign

Just a month after its launch, Web-based email service Mailblocks launched a three-month online ad blitz on Monday, aiming to persuade email users fed up by a deluge of spam to try an alternative to Hotmail and Yahoo.

The Mailblocks campaign, created by San Francisco-based BigMouth, will run across a variety of ad networks, including Adtegrity, ValueClick, UGO, Burst Media and Advertising.com. The ads will attempt to build awareness of Mailblocks’ service and convince emailers to try the service for $9.95 a year.

“Basically, the bar was pretty darn low out in the marketplace for Web-based email,” said Susan Bratton, Mailblocks’ vice president of sales and marketing.

Los Altos, Calif.-based Mailblocks officially launched a month ago on the proposition that consumers were willing to pay for a robust, ad-free and spam-free Web-based email service. The service sends a “challenge” to any non-authenticated user — someone not in a user’s address book or who has not communicated with the user before. Computer programs used by spammers cannot answer the challenge, which is a series of numbers to be included in a reply. Therefore, only messages sent from real people get through.

“People weren’t paying [for Web-based email] because there’s no product worth it,” Bratton said.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed, and Bratton declined to reveal the company’s subscriber goal for the push.

The campaign uses banners, buttons and skyscrapers, with banners making up the lion’s share. Bratton said the company chose the ad networks in order to get the broadest possible reach for its ad spending, with billions of impressions.

Two creative executions are used: “Switch,” which explicitly targets users of rival services, and “Anti-Spam,” which includes snippets of spam messages to drive home its annoyance.

Bratton said the company would also roll out the message to more popular destination sites. The campaign includes other interactive marketing components, including affiliate marketing through Commission Junction and search-engine marketing.

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