24/7 Media Looks to New Upgrades to Woo Customers

Ad network 24/7 Media is taking steps to boost its own offerings to marketers and advertisers, with two new additions to its ad serving and sweepstakes product lineups.

First, the New York-based company said its iPromotions sweepstakes unit would begin offering what it described as a viral marketing product, based on Instant Messaging technology.

Using the company’s IM Tell-A-Friend tool, marketers can embed a button — labeled something like “Tell your friends about this contest!” — in an iPromotions-hosted online sweepstakes. Clicking on the button brings up a screen in which users can select IM “buddies” to whom to send the link.

The thinking is that because each IM message arrives from a known friend or co-worker, the link is more likely to be opened than would a standard e-mail. (24/7 Media said early test of the product have validated this theory, showing a 300 percent increase in response rates versus e-mail campaigns.)

The effort also aims to take advantage of the burgeoning popularity of instant messaging as both a personal and enterprise communications tool.

“Instant Messaging is an incredibly fast and targeted interaction between online users who have an ongoing relationship,” said Bryan Heathman, vice president of 24/7 iPromotions. “With the IM Tell-A-Friend Marketing Tool, we are able to help clients set themselves apart from their competition by improving campaign response rates and leveraging new marketing trends.”

On the ad serving front, 24/7 Media this week took the wraps off new campaign analysis and reporting tools, dubbed OptiVue, which it said would simplify tracking, management and optimization.

According to the company, OptiVue is designed to boost advertisers’ ability to optimize creatives and to analyze campaign results, by integrating easier-to-use features into 24/7 Connect, the company’s ad server.

Additionally, spokespeople for 24/7 Media said the OptiVue add-on will allow Connect to track and report on clicks for rich media campaigns.

“The release of OptiVue keeps 24/7 Connect at the leading edge of client service,” said 24/7 Connect senior vice president Vivienne Dacey. “We are building our technology based on what our clients are telling us they want and need, and OptiVue is another extension of our commitment to partnering with clients to achieve their goals.”

OptiVue is the second Connect enhancement released this month. Earlier, the company launched OptiProfit, a publisher-focused Connect add-on that allows site publishers to fine-tune the campaigns that they’re serving through 24/7 Media’s technology, with the goal being to make sure the best-performing ads are accorded the highest priority.

The additions come as 24/7 Media and its ad serving peers are struggling to cope with the online advertising’s space’s protracted downturn. In recent weeks, industry leader DoubleClick also rolled out several upgrades to its DART ad serving ASP product.

By rolling out upgrades to their ad serving technology, the companies aim to make it easier and less costly for advertisers to launch and optimize online ad campaigns — especially rich media campaigns. DoubleClick chief executive Kevin Ryan, among other industry leaders, has publicly warned that the industry’s high production costs hamper its growth and appeal.

The efforts also come as several players seek to weather the storm by selling off portions of their businesses. The sector’s current conditions have seen Engage close its media division, and L90 sell its technology business to DoubleClick. Meanwhile, PubliGroupe is said to be shopping subsidiary Real Media’s OpenAdStream technology, as well.

24/7 Media, too, has made efforts to slim down in recent months, pulling the plug on its European ad network.

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