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WebConnect Launches Index to Track Cost of Online Ads

WebConnect launched its Site Price Index (SPI), which provides the quantifiable data on the cost of placing banner advertisements on various Internet sites.

The SPI data includes information on the highest- and lowest-priced Web sites.

"This index is the Dow Jones Industrial Average of Web pricing. . .there is hard data on how much it costs to advertise on the Internet, and the Site Price Index will be a major tool for site owners, media planners, advertisers, and agencies. . .," said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of WebConnect.

The WebConnect Site Price Index, which will be updated six times a year, tracks fluctuations in the cost of placing banner advertisements on more than 140 benchmark sites, divided into 12 categories, including Children's, Computing, Download/Shareware, Entertainment, Financial/Investment, Gaming, News, Search Engines, Business Executive, Sports, Travel and Women's sites.

The SPI tracks the average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and lists the lowest- and highest-priced sites in each category. To maintain long-term consistency for the index, the benchmark sites remain the same from quarter to quarter.

The SPI is modeled after the List Price Index, developed by WebConnect's sister company Worldata, which is an established 'industry benchmark' for the pricing of mailing lists, and is distributed by the Direct Marketing Association.

In addition to providing straight average prices for each category, the Site Price Index also provides weighted pricing, which takes into account the number of monthly impressions for each site selected within a particular category.

"We didn't want smaller sites with extremely low or high CPMs to skew the pricing of a category," Schwedelson said. "Weighting allows us to provide a more balanced look at ad prices on the Web."

In November 1998, the Computing category was the highest , with an average CPM of $78. The lowest priced category that month was Search Engines, with an average CPM of $19.

Within each category there was a significant range between the lowest-priced and most expensive sites. In the Women's category, Elle had the highest CPM at $60 and Southern Living was the lowest at $30. In the Sports category CNNsi charged $46, while the Sports Network CPM was set at $17. Biztravel.com was the most expensive travel site at $58, while the Internet Travel Network charged $25 per thousand impressions.

Schwedelson said that "what we found was that news/information Web sites and the online sites for the major business publications have shown stability and pricing increases. At the same time, sites catering to new uses--such as gaming, computing and travel--are still going through adjustment periods as they seek to define their niches and find their own pricing levels."

WebConnect's proprietary ICS tracking software allows customers to monitor all aspects of their campaigns and maximize their return on investment. The company was created by Worldata, a provider of list marketing and database services.