NetZero Offers Ad Guarantees

As-sponsored free ISP NetZero is hoping to attract new advertisers with a program that guarantees a 33 percent increase in Web site traffic.

NetZero’s zCast platform serves ads in a floating window during users’ online sessions. That same technology also allows the company to track Web surfing habits. (The technology does not reveal users’ personal information, the company said.)

Through the end of the year, NetZero said it will monitor changes in visits to a participating advertiser’s site. If the site does not experience a 33 percent traffic increase, NetZero will give the advertiser an additional 33 percent of its originally purchased impressions during the following month.

NetZero will measure site traffic changes, by comparing Web site traffic during a NetZero advertising campaign to the four-week period before the campaign began.

The program, which the company is calling “CyberYield”, has fairly stringent requirements. It applies only to and for first-time NetZero advertisers who purchase a minimum of $50,000 worth of impressions, for a campaign between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, and to sites outside of the top 100 most visited by NetZero users.

“The Internet industry has long used click yield as a measure of an ad campaign’s effectiveness. This ignores all of the additional traffic that is generated by the campaign,” said NetZero chairman and chief executive Mark Goldston. “Many users visit the sites later by typing in a Web site’s URL rather than clicking on the banner ad when it appears.”

The announcement marks an effort for NetZero to tout its impression-based rate model, as opposed to alternatives like cost-per-click or cost-per-acquisition.

For the past several months, impression-based rate models have come under fire from some industry watchers, although some CPM advocates have said new evidence supports their models. In May, CMGI ad network and technology company Engage said that its findings showed users who were served an ad but did not click through purchased or registered 33 percent more than users who did click through.

“You may be driving down a road and see a billboard for a certain store, but chances are you aren’t going to change your route and immediately drive to the store,” Goldston said. “However, the next time you are in the area or heading to the mall, you’ll remember to go in and check out the store you saw advertised on the billboard. That is what brand advertising is all about.”

NetZero also has been feeling the pressures of a hostile market, following the April correction and the slowdown in dot-com ad spending — shares of NZRO have been trading around the $2 mark, down from a 52-week high of $40.

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