Real Media to Launch U.K. E-mail Product

Ad rep and serving firm Real Media said it plans to take tentative steps in
entering the permission marketing business with the launch of an e-mail
product out of its U.K. office.

Real Media Mail will use Real Media’s Open AdStream ad management
technology to deliver targeted, rich media banners to Real Media’s publisher
e-mail network. The company already reps a number of list publishers, but
the product will now allow the company to serve those ads as well.

Real Media UK’s London-based executives are hopeful for the product’s
success. Having always been somewhat overlooked and underutilized as an
online marketing tool, marketers are beginning to view e-mail with renewed
interest, as Web banner ads’ efficacy fall into question, with banner
advertising’s predominant cost-per-thousand model also coming under
scrutiny. And, to some extent, since Europe still lags behind the U.S. in
e-mail’s popularity among marketers, it could prove an easier region in
which to gain a competitive foothold.

“Real Media Mail will position Real Media at the forefront of the
thriving online direct marketing industry,” said Jason Keane, the company’s
European media manager. “The product will provide our publishers with a
robust e-mail marketing solution that will naturally integrate with Open
AdStream to deliver targeted ads on behalf of permission marketers.”

The launch of an e-mail product means also that Real Media looks like
it’s coming off the sidelines, as many competing online ad networks have
within the past year launched, bought, or made moves to acquire e-mail
marketing units of their own.

So while an e-mail product will help it tap into a hot sector in a
growing market, the news means that Real Media will go head-to-head with not
only competing ad networks-turned-all-in-one-shops like DoubleClick and 24/7
Media, but e-mail marketing pure-plays like TargitMail, ClickAction and
CMGI’s yesmail.com.

But Real Media chairman Dave Morgan said the company intentionally held
off releasing an e-mail product to study how the domestic market played out.

“We had been waiting to see how things shook out to get a better sense of
where Web site owners will take it … and to see the kinds of products
marketers want,” Morgan said. “There are a lot of questions, and we wanted
to understand how they would be resolved: who are the players, whether it
would be ASP or enterprise software tools, how privacy was going to matter.”

The European roll out for Real Media Mail is scheduled for early 2001,
with an initial U.K. product launch in January. Morgan said that an
announcement about a U.S. product could come sometime during first quarter.
The company frequently tries out new products in single markets before
making them available globally, he added.

Real Media said messaging solutions technology firm Frontwire will
provide delivery services for Real Media Mail, through a deal also announced
Thursday.

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