Running the gamut of online ad placement

A "run-of-network" approach to online advertising buying, said to deliver significant price and performance benefits, is being offered by Real Direct, an initiative of Realmedia Australia.

Launched on May 30, the Real Direct network currently contains over 1200 websites in 23 categories with a retail emphasis, including automotive, entertainment, youth, news, health, finance, e-commerce/shopping, women and more. According to Real Direct's Scot McAllan, that figure is expected to increase to over 10,000 sites by the end of the year.

A run-of-network media purchase, claimed McAllan, permits far greater coverage at lower cost than conventional site-specific placement. Sites included in the network (which are individually evaluated for content by Real Direct staff) are typically those of smaller enterprises, which may get lower traffic per site, but "put them all together and they are substantial".

Casting the advertising net widely in this way immediately raises issues of targeting and relevance. Real Direct's system automatically monitors impressions at all sites and reports the results online in real time.

This allows a buyer to track results with considerable accuracy. In fact, the system automatically "optimises itself", discarding from the pool those categories and sites which perform poorly, and progressively narrowing the focus of the campaign to its target audience. Buyers already sure of their market can go for a "run-of-category" rather than a run-of-network basis.

Savings to the buyer can typically average 65-70 per cent, said McAllan, adding that there are benefits to site operators as well. "So many smaller sites out there don't make any revenue; at the moment they're paying out ISP fees just to keep themselves running. This offers a chance for them to earn back those costs. We feel this is one of the great strengths of the model."

Future developments for Real Direct are set to include online booking, with payment via credit card or an online credit application. McAllan said that this "is really the way we feel people are going to start buying online media".

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