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Doubleclick Exits The Ad-Tracking Business 209

Masem writes: "Cnet is reporting that Doubleclick closed down its ad tracking program as of Dec 31 2001, and is shifting from a media company to research and development for online ventures. Doubleclick claims they had upwards of 100million unique tracking profiles at the height of their run, but with the dot-com bust and lower ad revenue rates, ad tracking ran into the red. Even after the worrisome aquition of Abacus Online (which was rumored to allow Doubleclick to connect online and offline consumer profiles), the company could not turn a buck on ad revenues. Time to remove that 'doubleclick.com' from /etc/hosts now?""
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Doubleclick Exits The Ad-Tracking Business

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  • Finally! (Score:2, Interesting)

    Finally - no more waiting for web pages to load because they got hung up on attempts to contact doubleclick!
    • Sorry, no (Score:4, Informative)

      by Codex The Sloth ( 93427 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:16PM (#2805958)
      Uh, they're not getting out of the annoying ad business, just the annoying targeted ad.
      • Re:Sorry, no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hnice ( 60994 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @06:16PM (#2806445) Homepage
        You're right, of course -- and given that this is the case, doesn't this seem like a strange move, to get completely out of tracking? Their dart tags had termendous potential for tracking people, given the ubiquity of DC-served ads. What does it really cost them to keep tracking this stuff, besides a few more boxes in back -- which they already own, btw?

        Sure, there are other overhead issues here when it comes to analysis or putting a front-end on the collected data, but the one and only time i used dc data in my modeling, i made them give it to me raw, which they did with a little arm-twisting.

        Just seems a little baby-bathwateresque, with the hardware and the software already in place to chuck the whole thing. Are they really doing this? And does anyone know why?

        PS -- i know they're evil. that makes this seem *more* strange, not less.
        • Re:Sorry, no (Score:3, Informative)

          by acacia ( 101223 )
          What does it really cost them to keep tracking this stuff, besides a few more boxes in back

          It isn't cheap, believe me. Last time I checked, the backend system was four clustered Sun 6500's, with Oracle running on one of them and the transform processes going on a couple of others. When I wrote software for their backend systems, we were wrestling with a state file that was over 1 Terabyte. That was with the volume you found in the year 2000. I am sure that the volume has gone up since then, so you have to figure that the cost of additional DASD alone is painful. Not to mention that they may need to scale up the hardware to an E10K or an additional 6500 by now. Then on top of that add additional per CPU licensing fees for some of the software.

          If the targeted ad aspect of the system isn't paying for itself, then you can milk a lot more out of the existing hardware and software. Which in this economy makes it a no brainer.
          • Yeah, this sounds like basically the setup the last time that i checked, too -- which, admittedly, was about a year ago.

            Your point about the licensing fees is well-taken, and of course there's all the service agreements, too.

            I guess that I'm not having trouble believing that their data takes a huge setup and support, i'm having trouble believing that it's not worth it to a lot of people -- the value of this data is proportional to its evil, which was great indeed. for all the 'unique profile' laughter, when this worked, it was a data-collection technique with no competition, simply for its ubiquity of collection points.
          • I am sure that the volume has gone up since then, so you have to figure that the cost of additional DASD alone is painful.

            WHACK! Bad UNIX programmer! You said the evil mainframe D-word! :-)
        • Makes me wonder who they might end up *selling* the ad tracking business to, and what *they* might end up doing with it.
      • Re:Sorry, no (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zama ( 244613 )
        Which in a way sucks. It's companies like X10 that do the annoying bulk purchases of the same firckin ad over and over. The stuff that was done with Intelligent Targeting was awesome - for example, GM had these ads for a new line of commercial vans that would target particular occupations and industries. Each ad was unique and tailored to each field. If I was a plumber surfing the web and I had my choice between seeing a "Punch the Monkey" ad and a banner tailored to my career about a product I might actually be interested in, I know which I'd rather see.

        In a lot of cases I'd rather get a targeted ad than a non-targeted.
    • Err... maybe not. Now they'll time out going after DblClick's (down) DNS server!!!! mwahahaaa

    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Informative)

      by sporty ( 27564 )
      Of course

      .. you could use junkbuster http://freshmeat.net/projects/internetjunkbuster/

      .. use mozilla, you can kill off their cookies and images, there's an option to not download them
      • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Informative)

        by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:40PM (#2806205)
        IE 6 can be setup to deny their cookies. Unfortunatelty, you can't add them to your HOSTS file because IE considers a failure to load an IFRAME document means the entire page must have failed to load.
        • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Informative)

          by kilroy_hau ( 187226 )

          Unfortunatelty, you can't add them to your HOSTS file because IE considers a failure to load an IFRAME document means the entire page must have failed to load

          Not true, i've got the following entries on my HOSTS file:


          (among others)

          When I visit a page that has the evil IFRAME , I see the page that informs me of a 404 error, ON THE IFRAME, the rest of the page is loaded as usual.
        • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Informative)

          by BadDoggie ( 145310 )
          So you got the Hosts file and didn't bother getting eDexter [accs-net.com]? I guess half of those "M$-users SuX0R, Linux d00dZ R00l3Z" trolls aren't after all.

          For the uninitiated (and for those who aren't forced to use Win at work), eDexter acts as a local-only HTTP server (not accessible through the Net)which replaces the empty boxes caused by in Hosts and stops the resulting time-outs. eDexter has its own image for the space that an ad uses. The default image is a 43-byte GIF (thin pink bar).

          Better yet, it doesn't interfere with a locally-running "server" <gag, cough, choke> like IIS or MS Personal Web Server, which some of us also have to run at work. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.


          Of COURSE I'd rather run SuSE (even if it would get me sued [slashdot.org]), but my company wouldn't exist without closed source. And our security is almost as good as Microsoft's! Like Krusty said, don't blame me; they shove all of this money in my hand!

    • Actually it will probably be quite some time before it's completely out of all websites. We'll be doing that waiting for at least another 3 months.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:45PM (#2806251)
      • The problem with that is, the way Netscape 4.77 (Windows) seems to load pages, is, it won't fully render the page until these ad banners have timed out. This problem is particularly noticable on MyYahoo.

        For this reason, I switched to IE and IE does not do this - I get to see the content sooner. Sucks, because, otherwise, I would continue to use Netscape.
        However, Netscape (Macintosh) does not seem to have this problem.
        • Unless you're running a webserver you can run a little fake webserver called edexter. It should time-out immediately.

        • That problem only happens with tables. NS 1-4 (and Mosaic before it too, at least versions of Mosaic with table support) wants all tabled content to be a known size before any of the table is rendered (which means that if only the HTML designers would consistently put in HEIGHT and WIDTH values for their IMG tags, NS4 people would not be bothered). NS6 and Mozilla do not suffer from this defect. They are capable of moving the images around, like IE5 does. (And possibly IE4. I know IE3 suffers from the old Mosaic defect just the same way though.)

          Incidentally, I'm typing this in NS6.2 on a Mac. You're wrong about NS4.77 on the Mac; it has exactly the same old problem.

          • I tried eDexter, and it works great.

            Honestly, I can't tell if the problem happens on the Mac, because I haven't been able to successfully implement HOSTS file. No matter what I do to the damn file, it always errors out being imported. I know it's probably a formating problem, but I can't seem to figure out how to fix it.
  • good for them, maybe they too finally discovered how annoying popups are.
    • No, if you read the article, even this decision is monetary based. They don't actually care about the surfer, just the green.

  • I would think that this would hurt our favorite geeky websites (oh comeon, there has to be one free server out there that uses DblClick...) more then it will help us. Err on the plus side, (and IANATroll, not that I've fed the trolls and visited), maybe gs.cx/as.cx is DblClick-fed... ;) --pi
  • Sniffle... (Score:3, Funny)

    by spatrick_123 ( 459796 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:14PM (#2805942)
    This is a tragedy for fans of annoying internet advertising everywhere. Sleep well, sweet Doubleclick - we barely knew thee.

    Okay, I'm over it now - when's the fire sale auction?
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:46PM (#2806261)
      > Sleep well, sweet Doubleclick - we barely knew thee.
      > Okay, I'm over it now - when's the fire sale auction?

      Yeah. I wanna buy a server from Doubelick, just so I can open it up, remove one platter from one drive for a headstone, and bury the rest of the server six feet underground.

      Then I'll grab my trusty Dremel and engrave the following:

      "Posterity will ne'er survey,
      A nobler grave than this;
      Here lie the bones of a Doubleclick server,
      Stop, traveler, and piss."

      (With apologies to Lord Byron)

    • There's countless other ways you're tracked and your surfing (or suffering) logged. Your habits are worth money, I suggest patenting (or copyrighting, or copylefting, whichever is more appropriate) you surfing methods so you can sue the bastages. =)

      "You heard me right! I want a cut of whatever you get from the people who you sell my information, and of the profits realized on sales to myself as a result of targeted advertising to same."

  • At the very top of the page it was a link: http://ad.doubleclick.net/jump/N2613.osdn/B49638.2 ;sz=468x60;ord=101052438101052438

    This is a bad joke. I will keep ad.doubleclick.net to untill I find it on f***edcompany.com
  • Good riddance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:16PM (#2805970) Homepage
    I hope they had the time of their life... -- Green Day

    Ad banners have become an overlookable feature in most web pages. I would like to see further studies in targeted advertising. I mean, I hate the outdoors, pop music and fast food. Why show me ads for places to camp, discounts on CD-NOW, and contests with McDonalds?

    • Re:Good riddance (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Um, hello?

      You can't wait for doubleclick to go away but you want more targeted advertising? The announcement was that doubleclick is stopping all targeted advertising and just dealing out untracked spots.
    • I've noticed that even a lot of more techincal sites have anoying ads. Slashdot is the only site I've seen that actually has interesting ads, but then for them it's not that hard :) I think they could get a higher hit rate by thinking about who will want to see their ads.

      This post brought to you by a Maxtor hard drive sold by a Slashdot advertiser to a Slashdot reader because of Slashdot ads.
  • Huzzah! And a great rejoicing went up through the land, and the lion laid down with the platypus.

    <mumble>Intruding fascist scumbags.</mumble>
  • Data Collected (Score:3, Interesting)

    by futuresheep ( 531366 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:16PM (#2805972) Journal
    What will happen to all the collected data? Will they sell it? Keep it? Destroy it?
    • I thought they were selling it. Wasn't that their business model?

    • Some of their data has sufficiently persistent identity to it that it may retain value over time, but lots of it is subject to rapid bit rot. Not only do cookies get dumped, as aka-ed said in a companion posting, but people change ISPs, and ISPs reconfigure dialup systems, so already-dynamic IP addresses don't provide much beyond very-short-term information (e.g. tell you what fraction of Slashdot readers are probably also reading CNN or Freshmeat or Stock quote sites or music download sites or hardware sales sites so that companies know whether to advertise on Slashdot or not.)

      The availability of free email accounts has mixed effects on advertising - you may know that disposable1234@free-lamer-mail.com also reads sports sites, but next month that mail system will have bit the dust and the same person will be disposable4567@dotgone.to, while simultaneously using gamez-freak-31337@yahoo.com to read the gamer egroups and no-canned-meat@yahoo.com to comment on political egroups. On the other hand, Hotmail pretty much invented the advertising-funded free email business model, so the Doubleclicks and Linkexchanges and similar businesses certainly have the incentive and ability to correlate between many of the user IDs, so they can sell that information to advertisers.

  • AWWWW! (Score:3, Funny)

    by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:16PM (#2805973) Homepage Journal
    Gosh darn it, I so did love seeing lovingly crafted, hand-tailored advertising made just for me popping up on the pages I was viewing.

    How the heck am I supposed to learn about products and services that I should be interested in now?


  • one step closer (Score:2, Insightful)

    Hopefully this will start a trend in the downfall of web banners, popups/unders and shoshkeles. (ducks)
    Don't get me wrong, I work at an Ad Agency, as their senior interactive developer, but the proliferation of advertising on the internet without supporting revenue streams has always seemed a little silly to me.
    at least more common advertising mediums actually show positive ROI when executed well.

    I don't care how innovative your flash banner, pop-under, or mouse trailer is, it's not going to make me more inclined to purchase your products.
    True, it may build brand recognition, and increase word-of-mouth talk about a particular company or item, but where's the proof in the pudding?
    • Re:one step closer (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > I don't care how innovative your flash banner, pop-under, or mouse trailer is, it's not going to make me more inclined to purchase your products.
      > True, it may build brand recognition, and increase word-of-mouth talk about a particular company or item, but where's the proof in the pudding?

      Hey, you were in the ad biz. You know as well as I do that an ad agent is a con man whose job it is to con his customers into thinking he can con his customers' customers.

      As a marketroid once told a friend of mine, "If the customer leaves your site, having bought exactly what he wanted to buy, you haven't sold anything".

      As I wish I'd been there to tell the marketroid - "Get the fsck out of my office." ;-)

      • hence the bashing of internet ads from doubleclick, etc..as in:

        "don't buy their stuff, our product (ads) is much better than theirs"
    • perhaps you, or someone at your work, can answer this question:
      Why can a news paper with a circulation of 100,000 can make money off advertising that is just a picture, but a web site with 100,000 visitor can not?
      • perhaps you, or someone at your work, can answer this question:
        Why can a news paper with a circulation of 100,000 can make money off advertising that is just a picture, but a web site with 100,000 visitor can not?

        I don't work in advertising (although a friend does... hack, spit).

        My guess is that there are, maybe, two or three other newspapers in that city competing for ad money, while there are several hundred to several thousand other web sites competing for ad money within one niche (e.g. tech news, or fly fishing, or pet owners, whatever...)

        You do the math.
        • My guess is that there are, maybe, two or three other newspapers in that city competing for ad money, while there are several hundred to several thousand other web sites competing for ad money within one niche (e.g. tech news, or fly fishing, or pet owners, whatever...)

          The reality is that in most topics (e.g. tech news, or fly fishing, or pet owners, whatever...) there is only 3-8 'top' sites, with the remainder falling off exponentially below those. The real problem is that most (commercial) sites have more outgo than they can justify, not just the lack of revenue.
  • temporary reprieve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:16PM (#2805975)
    "The lift you get from that kind of profiling just isn't enough to pay all that extra data storage and process costs,"

    Well, that's going to change. By analogy (to drag that up again), in 1981, USENET posters generally thought it would be impractical for a long time to come to put all USENET postings on the Internet. By the mid-90's, it had happened. You can bet that in the not too distant future, it will be so cheap to record and correlate all you on-line activities that no company will think twice about doing it--unless the law prevents them from doing it.

  • To whom? the highest bidder? Sure, anybody with savvy has been doing just what the author suggests, but we all know that the home users was DoubleClick's target market. What of their data?

    -- RLJ

  • by Brett Glass ( 98525 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:17PM (#2805989) Homepage
    I'm sure that DoubleClick realizes that its tracking database, and the equipment and softawre that compile it, are valuable to certain unscrupulous marketers. It therefore seems highly unlikely that they would "just" shut down. It's much more likely that they'll sell it to another unscrupulous company. I won't stop blocking them yet.... Rather, I'll prepare to block whichever company (e.g. Naviant or Donnelly) buys their tracking system.
    • I think I'm more worried about the sale of the data that they've collected. I imagine they have several profiles that are linked to email addresses, etc. Heaven only knows what data is in those profiles. While mine is nothing shameful, I still would prefer no one has a profile for me...

    • But Moore's Law and its other psuedoscientific corrolaries say that CPU horsepower and network bandwidth keep getting cheaper, so it may become cost-effective for them (or some competitor) to bring it back in a year or two, especially if the economy improves in a way that makes advertising revenue valuable again.

      Just think what a Peer-to-Peer Doubleclick Reimplementation could get away with - if they could include their evil warez into a popular home server application, like a game system or IM/ICQ client or music-piracy\\\\\\\distribution system or whatever, they might be able to cut the costs of distributing and summarizing their advertising information.

      It's easy to make doubleclick appear to go away - on Unix systems, I alias it to "", which is the machine next to mine, instead of, but that only works for things named doubleclick.com. If they start naming their domain names things like adserver.customer1.com and innocuous.customer2.com, it becomes much harder to block, and if they do a different software version that runs a CGI on the same server that their customer uses to serve images, then you wouldn't be able to block it without blocking the interesting site, unless you examine more detail than just the domain name.

      Ad services are already going beyond the banner model, with many major sites putting up bigger ads in the middle of their content (e.g. ZDnet) as well as developing annoying popups, popunders, using garish blinking, etc. As costs come down, building effective tracking tools will become easier, while developing better ways to make you interested in the advertiser's content will continue to be a hard problem. That suggests that better-tracked ads should have a growing value relative to less-tracked ads, though both may still decline in absolute value, cost, and price.

  • Great news if.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Great news if Doubleclick flushes out its database of personal information.
  • As advertisers are getting more and more intrusive, this is a Good Thing. It will show that putting banners on webpages, no matter how intrusive, isn't really all that profitable. The bad part is, a lot of websites get paid by banner clicks, if companies stop offering pay-per-clicks, these sites will be in trouble.
  • It's "doubleclick.net", not "doubleclick.com". Also, someone forgot to close their italic tag.
    • And also:

      >Time to remove that 'doubleclick.com' from /etc/hosts now?""

      Is it too much to expect that slashdot, of all sites, could at least get the format of /etc/hosts correct?

  • Nice to see there's a business case out there now against profiling Internet users for ads. Too bad it will most likely be looked at as a fluke failure ("oh they charged too much, we'll charge less") that won't stop the practice. Doubleclick ultimately failed in this venture because they found themselves in a PR fiasco. They gave people a way to opt out, and a lot of people did it. If I was buying advertising, I wouldn't pay the extra for a service that was slammed in the news and that people could choose not to use. Doesn't mean some marketroid out there won't still think it's a great idea.

    We haven't heard the last of the advertising profiles. There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The decision will ultimately be decided by the Net surfers who choose to avoid intrusive advertising.
    • " Nice to see there's a business case out there now against profiling Internet users for ads. Too bad it will most likely be looked at as a fluke failure ("oh they charged too much, we'll charge less") "

      Advertising doesn't offend me. What does offend me, however, are ads that manipulate, or take over my browser (pop ups, pop under/overs, interstitials, scrollers). Most offensive of all are tracker ads that track my movements OFF the site that has the ad.

      And it offended enough people for whole browsers (Mozilla, Konqueror) to be written with features specifically designed to halt this, if the user so chose.

      As I said, I don't mind ads as a way to pay for content on a site, any more than I mind ads on TV and radio. But TV and radio advertisers learn NOTHING personally about me just for my action of watching/listening to any given show. They get my info only if I choose to give it, by responding to their ad.

      Really, the whole internet advertising business killed itself by doing this. By collecting such information and making it available to their advertisers, it created the illusion that internet ads are LESS effective than any other form.

      What I think is that this let the cat of truth out of the marketer's bag, that really ALL forms of advertising are routinuely ignored by a public that is increasingly bombarded and increasingly resistant. It's just that on TV and radio, the advertiser has no DIRECT, perfect statistics to back this up as they do with internet ads.

      I believe once internet ads return to the same philospohy of TV, print, and radio ads, to make impressions and build recognition, rather than as a "buy me NOW!" button, they will be much more effective.
  • I'm working in the office space in Toronto that used to belong to Doubleclick's canadian offices.

    We've had it since the end of november.

    I'm guessing doubleclick hasn't been working on much since...
  • On a (slightly) related note, here's a link to Banner Blind [mozdev.org] (for Mozilla only). It's a little XPI that merely hides images of particular sizes.

    Good for blocking banners, as the name would imply. ;)

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:27PM (#2806099) Homepage
    Doubleclick claims they had upwards of 100million unique tracking profiles at the height of their run

    And it's rumored to represent over 10million people!

  • by DeadBugs ( 546475 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:29PM (#2806120) Homepage
    I believe they supplied more cookies than Nabisco
  • DIE (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 )
    This is obviously not going to be one of my more insightful contributions, but DIE. DIE DIE DIE you horrible load of crap. Who knew before you that a 'trojan-esque', full frontal assault on personal privacy could ever be legitimized as 'harmless, wholesome, American, capitalistic marketing'. BUUURRRN.
  • I know most readers here already block cookies, but for the 99.9% of the Internet users, this is waaaaaaaaaay to complicated, until IE 6 and presto: no more cookies.

    Well, not exactly, but good enough to make Doubleclick crap thier pants and get into another line of business.....fast!
  • That it's much better not to have any measure of how well your advertising works (or doesn't work).

    TV has much more subtle and less effective ways of tracking what people watch and what they subsequently buy. That's why they're able to make much more on ads that don't generate revenue.
  • by mikester911 ( 223866 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:32PM (#2806137)
    their targeted segment of advertising.

    i'm willing to bet large sums of money that they will still be serving ads, just not directly at you anymore....not that you noticed the difference anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No need to add ' doubleclick.com' in /etc/hosts, in Mozilla, you can go through a 5 page tabbed wizard which can be used to block connections to doubleclick.com, or so it seems. Read the documentation. You might want to pipe the output of tcpdump to a homemade script to make sure that it correctly blocks what you expect. Why hack a line in a config file when you can have it set up in Mozilla with a GUI interface? And you know that it will work until you do a clean reinstall of your browser, after which you simply repeat the operation.
    • Because if I block it in /etc/hosts its gone forever, to everything. Blocking it in Mozilla will not block it if, say, you download some filesharing program that has banner ads on it, or any other program for that matter.
  • ... you'll still need it. They are stopping their *targeted* ad program, not stopping all ads altogether.
  • by British ( 51765 )
    Of all the dot-com failures that have happened over the last year, why couldn't DoubleClick be one of them? Why?
  • I didn't even know who doubleclick was until I began cleaning out my cookies file. That's when I realized that most of the unwanted cookies were from doubleclick!

    With all those doubleclick cookies on my system, it leaves me to wonder if the 100 million unique profiles are really all that unique.
  • by kryzx ( 178628 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:40PM (#2806202) Homepage Journal
    What really happened is that doubleclick couldn't make money in private industry, so they targetted the people who were willing to pay good money for that information. They got a multi-billion dollar contract from NSA to continue and improve their profiling, provided they stop sharing the results with anyone else. So now all their activities are highly classified, and they have established a cover, or front business, to explain why they still exist. But you didn't hear it from me... oh crap, who is that banging on my door ---- and someone's remotely taken control of my computer ---- IT'S NOT TRUE, HONEST! I MADE IT UP! I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!!!!! AAAaaaaaaaaaa........
  • by dreamquick ( 229454 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:42PM (#2806224) Homepage
    Okay, after reading that article you get the impression that targetting ads based on data capture doesn't work.

    First off because of the pain/cost of getting a decent level (read both accurate and large coverage) of data in the first place (e.g. i'd imagine if you were the sort who spends large amounts online frequently you would have opted out either through the regular channels or by simply ignoring all their attempts to track you)

    Secondly because their clients couldn't justify the cost of buying a properly targetted ad with the return it generates (it cost approximately 400% more than the standard ad type but only gives an improved yield in the range of 200%-300% if you target it right).

    When compared to regular mail advertising, banners will lose out because mail;

    a) can be far more targetted/available for most demographics
    b) has better coverage
    c) has a better chance of being read rather than ignored, skipped or stopped by other means
    d) available for most demographics

    So what have we learnt from all this?

    Well that dblclick may have the technology but the customers will not buy despite the promises, or perhaps the fact that the cost increase was not proportionate to the performance increase. Instead their consumers preferred to go with a random assortment of less targetted ads.

    Well that's marketeers for you!
  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @05:53PM (#2806291) Homepage Journal
    ...shifting from a media company to research and development for online ventures.

    Hey, maybe they'll discover a way to make money on web content.

    - B

  • There needs to be a website where people can post what they need, and then the advertisers can browse the listings and send a message about the relevant products they offer.

    Nevermind, I know that would fail, it would rely too heavily on ethics and honesty.
  • ugh... some points (Score:5, Informative)

    by zama ( 244613 ) <bbcas AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @06:02PM (#2806350)
    DoubleClick is NOT leaving the adserving business. Just the Intelligent Targeting product. DoubleClick will still use cookies, still serve ads using targeted information (each host website can dynamically insert key-values into the ad tags for targeting purposes - demographic or behavioral information that can be targeted to).

    What DoubleClick is no longer doing is taking traffic data and putting into a big consortium to find interest segment associations and targeting. This is the exact same thing that offline marketers do - you apply for the credit card and buy a sweater at Gap, that goes into a db with your age and location and other info. That info is then contributed to a data pool which also has purchasing habits of Pottery Barn, Ikea, William Sonoma, etc. The various members in the consortium can then purchase lists of various demographics for targeted direct mailings and catalogs.

    I don't think the info is sellable - what good is someone else's cookie data? It's not like you'll be able to serve ads to a doubleclick cookie unless you somehow take over the domain. And there's no personally identifiable info in that database either.

    • That's right, Doubleclick are still going to be serving up adverts. No, it is not time to remove the doubleclick entry from your hosts file.

      You'll notice that on the linked page the following piece of code was included, loading an advert banner (that haven't blocked them already):

      <img SRC="http://ad.doubleclick.net/ad/...

  • I think they are out temporarily to conserve their cash, as they are not getting as much business as they would like to. So, it's basically a survival tactics.

    As soon as the economy is back, and the online ad business is back, you can bet that they'll be back in business again.

    So breathe while you can.
  • by LL ( 20038 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @06:47PM (#2806613)
    Think people ... why do you have ads?

    To sell something ...

    What is the most efficient market for selling stuff ... ?
    If you study the nobel prize winner of a few years ago, you'd discover that dutch auctions can be theoretically proven to be the most efficient price discovery process.

    Guess who's implementing auctions in a massive way?
    The same group that's expanding from collectibles to cars to sports gear to CDs ... (and I'm not talking Amazon here)

    Already large-scale companies are dumping overstocked or out-dated goods on eBay ... there's no reason why they can't commoditise other mass market non-perishable bundles (think personal care kits, think entire kitchenware, think car personalisation). The biggest barrier to adoption has always been social ... the better micetrap doesn't work beyond a certain point. It's all about distribution, reliability, after-sales service, etc ...

    OK that's the long-term killer for ads. Now what about service organisations (ie offering something other than tangible goods). The service is about finding someone to do something that you can't do yourself ... this is a directory problem. Already you see personal advertising in newspapers disappearing due to specialised employment agencies, help-desks, ... I see this trend also happening to banner-ads. People will go to specific trading sites which persists reputations rather than wanting to be inundated with services they don't need at the moment.

    So ... the other ads that are left are the branding which are image/style based ... frankly those wish to be associated with an experience and reminding the user that you're responsible for a over-limit bandwidth bill and a waste of time is not good karma. Coke and Pepsi sponsor rock concerts not sport statistics.

    In summary, unless there are some fundamental problems with my observations, I would say that ads as we know them (banner, etc) will become ineffective due to going under the personal threshold of normal perception. Go to a rural place and you'd really notice the *ABSENCE* of billboards. Instead you will be mor eproduct placements ... movie trailers which use products that normal people can identify with and feel part of the crowd. I can talk about social alienation in cities which lead people to identify with their professional peers rather than neighbours but this is a geek-site not socio-economic trend analysis.

    In summary, IMHO pure ad-driven renue models will fail. It might have worked for the radio-broadcasting industry which requires continuous listening but unless something radical happens to social perception of the internet, the ability to jump-click outside a walled domain, and the fundamental cost-structure (ads=bandwidth=costs) I don't see them being viable.

    Of course the 64 million dollar question is what is a viable business model which all the VCs would give their souls (or unmortgaged remainder thereof) to discover.

    • What is the most efficient market for selling stuff ... ?
      If you study the nobel prize winner of a few years ago, you'd discover that dutch auctions can be theoretically proven to be the most efficient price discovery process.

      And yet, in the real world, most commerce doesn't take place that way.
  • so, theyve collected all the information after tracking us for years. dont need any more information, therefore, stopping tracking us.

    a company that has finished business on the internet after doing what they planned? somethings not quite right...
  • They are getting out of the profile-tracking business, not the ad business. If you didn't notice, DoubleClick's ads are used on virtually every major web site everywhere. They aren't just going to walk away from that.

    Frankly, this is barely newsworthy. I guess it's worth mentioning because it's good news for privacy advocates, but other than that, it's just "ad product gets cancelled...big whoop".
  • by tperkow ( 178361 ) <tperkow&hotmail,com> on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @07:01PM (#2806726) Homepage
    As a marketer and a long-time heavy internet user, I think we've gone a bit far here.

    There are a lot of benefits to the profiling and targeting, and the real potential for encroaching on my privacy is relatively limited. The company I work for would not exist without targeted marketing based on profiles built up on individuals.

    We don't care what the person's sex/race/religion/politics are unless that data means the person is more likely to buy (and thus is intersted in our product). Even if we had that kind of information, we're a business.

    Think about it from the other side: do I need to see ads for products I'll never buy? I'd much rather people give me offers and deals that match things I already buy. It's more useful to me.

    You won't get there from here without targeting. This targeting gives us free (network) TV/sports/etc. It supports magazines we subscribe to at $1 an issue instead of $5. It supports websites we read, including this one. Slashdot is pretty obvious targeting, but CNN.com?

    I do believe there's an important balance, but still -- we shouldn't be rejoicing about this.

    Flame away.

    • I'm fully in support of the concept that I
      should never see an ad for a product I'm not
      interested in.

      My method of achieving this is much simpler than
      using profiling technology, though.
    • We don't care what the person's sex/race/religion/politics are unless that data means the person is more likely to buy (and thus is intersted in our product). Even if we had that kind of information, we're a business.

      You might not need it, but somebody will.

      • Employers would love to buy a psychological profile of you, in the same way a bank buys your credit report.
      • Lawyers would love to know which jurors will help them, and which jurors will hurt them.
      • Your browsing habits would provide tantilizing data for prospective mates.
      • Corrupt government officials would like to know if prospective employees will break the law to support their cause.
      • Scam artists would like to know if you're a schmuck who will buy or believe anything.
      • Criminal syndicates would like to know if you've been investigating options that they disagree with.
      • The public would drool over the browsing habits of alleged sex offenders.
      • Politicians would never hesitate to dig up dirt on their competitors.
      • Stalkers would obsess over the personal lives of their victims.
      • The media would like to know which political candidates have been reading up on copyright issues.

      You may only be interested in whether or not someone will buy your product, but the market for personal data far exceeds your little advertising agenda.

  • A clever ploy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zarchon ( 12168 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @07:25PM (#2806866)
    Ahh, but what if it's a trick specially *designed* to make us remove the ads.doubleclick entry from our personal blackhole lists? I can see it now. Four months from now, they'll announce their return to user-tracking, and will in fact have continued to track all us innocent users the whole time! :-)


  • Its all relative (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @08:04PM (#2807018) Homepage
    Doubleclick is failing because ads on the internet are failing in general. Why? Because there is more advertising than there is cash flow to justify it. Too many companies and individuals are sporting banner ads to make a few bucks, while depleting the ad resources that would better go to the websites that could really use it. Of course, its all a matter of supply and demand.

    To be effective, you need a LOT of ecommerce sites. And you need a LOT of people conducting business through those sites. However, while 50% of Americans might be using the internet, you can bet that 50% of all retail purchases are not conducted through it. You have an excessive amount of consumers not actually spending money to support online businesses, but still "consuming" the free products that are being funded somewhat indirectly by those same businesses. Imagine if all the customers of a grocery store came in to take only the free samples and left.

    Also, the average online consumer is less affected by online ads than their equivilant counterpart in meatspace is. The brainwashed masses who watch primetime TV every night are more influenced by the 33% of their TV watching experience, which is comprised of commercials. It also helps that generally speaking, most commercials are actually advertising products that people will use, instead of porn sites and pyramid schemes. Yes, I realize not all banner ads are about these things, but most of the spam we get is, and this spam reflects in the minds of the consumers in much the same way. Once they realize they're being suckered, all online advertising is seen in the same light.

    What ends up happening, is we have a much smaller percentage of online consumers who are easily influenced by ads of any sort, yet those consumers are still consuming the free material supported by those very ads.

    Targeting ads at consumers who are not influenced by ads won't have any greater effect. They're still just as likely to ignore them. The added overhead involved in accumulating this information is mostly wasted. Also, remember that the purpose of most advertising is not to inform a user of a product's existance, but to psycologically imprint that product's name so the next time the consumer is shopping and see's the product, they're more likely to grab it. This is why we still see coke commercials, even though everyone knows what coke is. It becomes an issue of name recognition.

    Online, name recognition is less of a concern. If you're buying products online, you probably already know what you're looking for. The best an advertiser can hope for is to place a similar product next to one the consumer is looking for, hoping to catch his/her eye. Ultimately, every website will either have to fund their own content, which is fine until it becomes too popular to justify, charge subscriptions, which goes against the grain of what everyone is used to for content based websites, or sell products to generate revenue.

    If more sites do this, then ads will have greater value. They will also advertise actual products instead of other content sites, which would create more cashflow. However, this could take some time.

  • Heh-heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @08:23PM (#2807124) Homepage Journal

    Doubleclick can punch my monkey!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Time to remove that 'doubleclick.com' from /etc/hosts now?

    No, for two reasons:

    1. They stopped because of profit, not ethical enlightenment. There's no reason to suspect that the people have suddenly become honest human beings.
    2. It's too late, the earth there is scorched. The name is forever tainted. They can switch business models to giving away free puppies, but their name will still be cursed. If they want to have a name that resolves and a network whose packets are not dropped, they need a completely new identity. The trademark "doubleclick" shall always be a liability on their balance sheet. Let this be a lesson to others who contemplate the practice of evil.
  • ...and is shifting from a media company to research and development for online ventures.

    Perhaps they can research some of the brain damages and annoyances of the x10 popunder ads [x10.com] and give out a cookie that gets rid of them [x10.com] for more than 30 days.

    Patrick Cable II
  • I wonder what they meant by unique profiles. I clean out my cookies every week or so. Does this mean I get to be unique hundreds of times? I'm sure the actual number of people they're tracking is much lower, especially when you prune people who appear not to have looked at a webpage in the last 6 months. It would require an enormous amount of work to get any value at all out of a database like that.

    Crunch those numbers, boys!

Torque is cheap.