Web Audit Company Expands in LatAm

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (07/20/2000) - Certifica.com S.A., which monitors Web traffic, has expanded to Argentina, and plans to cover the rest of Latin America within eight months and the U.S. Hispanic market within a year.

Certifica.com has operated in Santiago de Chile since April of this year, and besides opening offices in Argentina also will expand to Perú, followed by Brazil, Colombia and México. It will establish operations in Venezuela and Miami by the end of this year, said company officials at a press conference Tuesday in Buenos Aires.

The company aims to become the standard for Internet auditing in Latin America, said Chief Executive Officer Alejandro Fosk. To that end, Fundación Chile invested seed capital of US$500,000 in Certifica.com, and the company expects to raise $5 million funding for its initial operations in the region.

The certification system used by Certifica.com tracks the number of Web site visitors per hour and per month, and also keeps tabs on the pages they view.

That information then can be used for selling advertising, raising capital, and for internal management control, Fosk said.

The system works by inserting a script at the bottom of each audited page. Each time that a browser makes a page request, and the page is fully displayed, the script sends a notification to Certifica.com's servers, and the system adds the page view to the suitable account. The system sets a cookie on a Web site visitor's hard drive to track repeat visits.The software has been developed in-house and it has safeguards against artificially induced statistical swelling, Fosk said. The audited figures are permanently available to clients at the Certifica.com Web site, and are updated by the minute.

Each audited Web site customer has the right to see its own statistics only, and it has also the right to publicize them as it sees fit, Fosk said.

Certifica.com service is not currently being offered to advertising agencies, but only to Web site operators.

The pricing plan for the services is flexible, depending on the number of monthly page views and the sophistication of the generated reports. The basic Certifica service is free for Web sites with up to 10,000 page views per month.

From that point up, prices go from $30 for sites that barely exceed that figure up to $400 monthly for Web sites with more than 1,000,000 page views per month.

"Sites that range between 1 million up to 10 million page views per month are considered important in Latin America," said Daniel Grunfeld, general manager of Certifica.com in Argentina. But smaller sites should not be overlooked, because sometimes they are important "niche markets," he said.

The company expects to break even financially in 10 or 11 months, with yearly revenue of about $3 million to $4 million in Latin America, Fosk said, adding that is a conservative estimate.

Argentina is an attractive location for the company because, although it still has a relatively low percentage of Internet users, it has been the most significant and successful contributor of Web sites and dot-com companies in Latin America.

"Argentine entrepreneurs have a special quality -- maybe a better capacity for facing risks -- that is not to be found elsewhere in Latin America", Fosk said.

Certifica.com also recently signed a deal with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to jointly develop Internet audience audit products. The products will use Certifica's technology and the line will be called Certifica Audit. Both companies will use the products developed under the partnership.

Certifica.com can be reached at +54-1-4775-5087 in Argentina or at +56-2-240-0420 in Chile or on the Web at http://www.certifica.com/.

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