Network Focus: DoubleClick

DoubleClick, the mother of online ad networks, was founded in 1996. It represents 715 websites and delivers an estimated 10 billion monthly impressions (not counting those delivered by its third-party ad-serving technology, DART). Over the past several months, the network has undergone a number of significant changes.

In October, after the industry buzzed about an alleged merger of DoubleClick and Real Media, DoubleClick instead bought the technology assets of L90. With L90 no longer in the ad-serving game, Real Media’s Open AdStream is left as DoubleClick’s only viable competitor.

After DoubleClick sold its European media sales business to German media company AdLINK, laid off a great deal of its own media staff, and accepted the resignation of Barry Salzman, head of its media unit, some wondered whether the network was getting out of repping entirely. (DoubleClick officials would not comment.)

"I believe DoubleClick will stick with the media business for the short-term," says Marissa Gluck, senior analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "Right now, while online media has become a commodity business, DoubleClick‘s largest contributor to, and client of, its technology is the media division. The media network becomes a means to an end, in a sense. It’s strategically important to them, but once its contribution diminishes, they no longer have a compelling reason to stay in the media business unless the market turns around. It’s just a question of what will happen first."

In November, DoubleClick expanded its rich media capabilities to include a pop-up unit that can be shaped into any specific product or logo. It also signed to its network for exclusive representation and launched Site Directory, a searchable database of 7,000 websites. Presently used by DART for advertiser customers but planned as a standalone product next year, the directory helps advertisers streamline their online campaign planning processes by identifying sites that match campaign requirements.

At press time, DoubleClick turned its Ad Effectiveness research practice over to Dynamic Logic in return for a 10 percent stake. It also partnered with Solbright (to incorporate adSuite) and Liberate (to deliver ads to iTV), and started supporting Unicast Superstitials. Looking ahead, Chris Saridakis, DoubleClick’s SVP of Global TechSolutions, said, "As we have publicly stated, a major focus for us in 2002 is achieving profitability."

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