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CollegeBytes.com Offers Contextual Marketing

Cambridge, MA-based CommonPlaces LLC said that CollegeBytes.com, a new Internet hub for the collegiate market, now enables advertisers to target more than 15 million U.S. college students.

Targeting opportunities include "contextual' messages" that are personalized based on criteria such as age, gender, hometown, location, college major, interests, and time of day.

CommonPlaces, a creator of community sites, is the exclusive online partner of Network Event Theater (NET), an on-campus media, marketing services and promotions company. With a presence on more than 2,000 U.S. college campuses, NET will serve as the sales agent for CollegeBytes.com.

CollegeBytes.com said it "has challenged the status quo" in online advertising pricing by allowing advertisers to reach this specific audience while spending the same or less than they would on the largest advertising-supported sites.

"As a highly personalized vertical hub focused on a specific demographic, not only can we deliver the 18 to 24 year old collegiate audience, but we can identify and help retailers reach specific individuals, such as males majoring in computer science in San Francisco, or females in their senior year who are interested in purchasing an automobile," said Bill Townsend, CommonPlaces co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing.

"As an example of how finely targeted we can get, we can identify a group of users on an Austin campus who have been on the Hub from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.," said Townsend. "We can deduce they've missed dinner and then show a pizza advertisement, which includes the phone number of the delivery location closest to each student. We could even insert the user's first name in the ad, i.e., Tom, How About A Medium Pizza With Everything for $9.99? Call 555-1234."

CollegeBytes.com, which is scheduled to be formally launched in August, provides students with a Web-based environment including access to personalized tools, services and resources. The site also enables students to create or join specialized online communities, called TRIBES, with people with similar interests on their own and other campuses. CollegeBytes.com also offers students the opportunity to purchase goods and services directly from within a centralized online Hub.

Each user develops a personal profile that they control, which then interfaces with the Hub's proprietary personalization server. Through this process, targeted marketing messages are routed to each user.

"We feel that the prices typically charged for untargeted audiences are too high," Townsend said. For example, while many of the portal sites charge $20,000 for 1 million ads to a huge, unidentified audience, at CollegeBytes.com, that same $20,000 gets an advertiser 1 million ads targeted to a specific 18 to 24 year old demographic. And for between $5 and $10 CPM more, the advertiser can target by region, individual college campus, major course of study, hobbies, or campus organization. . ."

CommonPlaces said that Network Event Theater will represent CollegeBytes.com for advertising sales.