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The Magestic Splendor of Online Advertising! or some damn thing like that.

The Big News: Ad networks a go-go
by Ryan Monceaux, Editor In Chief

Within the last week, two major companies have introduced new ad networks that each hope will change the future of the Online Advertising industry, but in very distinct ways. One is a leader in the profession, with a proven formula for serving ads while the other, Berkeley, Calif.-based Lumeria is attempting to revolutionize the entire Internet with it's newest product, the Lumeria Ad Network.

24/7 Media, which boasts a network of 400 Web sites with over 2.5 billion impressions each month, re-launched its popular ContentZone ad network for small- and medium-sized Web sites. The network strives to reach Web sites that get fewer than one million monthly impressions. ContentZone has its own network of over 4,000 sites.

The company contends that it has increased ContentZone's service opportunities to include a new payment structure, an e-commerce program and a free newsletter geared towards providing business and industry tips. 24/7 Media's CEO David Moore thinks the network will be able to serve practically anyone.

"ContentZone has always been a tremendous opportunity for members, who range from serious entrepreneurs to devoted hobbyists, great grandmothers to young adults,'' Moore said.

Recognized as a leader in the industry, 24/7 Media's network hopes to enhance loyalty to the company by providing better services than its competitors.

Lumeria, however, is taking a different slant while introducing its newest product. The Lumeria Ad Network, which was first reported on at several weeks ago, will be the first technology to be introduced nationwide that replaces all or part of banner advertising on a page and replaces it with ads sold locally.

The company claims that the system is the ultimate opt-in system, where the user chooses whether or not to participate and then will control the display of their own browser. Once an ad comes into the browser, it is directly trashed and a more personalized ad, most likely sold in the user's community, will replace it. Lumeria is calling the idea "disruptive technology."

According to Lumeria CEO Fred Davis, the ad replacement technology will be the first nationwide network that pays users to see the ads they will be uploading. Davis did not, however, comment on exactly how the user would make the money.

"Advertising is a sale of the individual's attention. Lumeria's infomediary approach transfers control back to the individual, who should be the primary beneficiary when their attention is sold," Davis said. "Lumeria Ad Network is not only the first system to let users choose ads they prefer to see, it's also the first comprehensive system that allows the individual to profit from the sale of their attention."

Davis also said that the technology will be run by Lumeria's SuperProfile system that Lumeria calls the "anti-cookie." The system will feature a cookie-management technology that prevents unauthorized cookies from working at all. Davis also says that users of the Lumeria Ad Network cannot be tracked by other ad networks or Web sites.

Lumeria's technology comes on the heels of a controversial discussion on the Online Ads List in which Virginia native Fred Showker introduced the first ad replacement technology in late December. Showker said that he has no immediate plans to go ahead with the marketing of his idea, but maintains that his options remain open.

After hearing about Showker's idea from a friend who is a member of the Online Ads List, Davis hinted that his company would soon release a network comparable to that of Showker's.

"Amazing isn't it," Davis said. "In a marvelous case of parallel evolution, someone else named Fred was indeed espousing an idea very similar to what we've been working on for the past year."

One of the major criticisms of the technology is that it is bound to run into litigation, as one Online Advertising insider called the technology "essentially theft." Davis said that while he fully believes in his idea, he expects his journey not to be a smooth one.

"We have a very capable legal team to help us defend our approach," Davis said.

Two ad networks, yet two remarkably different approaches. 24/7 Media's network will help small- and medium-sized businesses with their online presence while Lumeria's network will allow users to replace the advertising they see with banners sold to fill the space that other companies have paid for. Each faces new challenges in the weeks ahead, but the obstacles Lumeria will see a bit more daunting. One thing is clear, though: If Lumeria can get through the legal system with their idea intact, the company will reinvent the advertising model of the Internet.

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