DoubleClick seals sales contract for Freeserve

Internet ad sales house DoubleClick has won the contract to sell advertising for Freeserve, the Dixons Group-backed venture now vying with AOL to be Britain’s biggest Internet service provider.

DoubleClick will begin rolling out ad sales for Freeserve over the next few weeks.

The sales house aims to establish the site as one of the UK’s top single online advertising properties, which will be sold by a dedicated team directed by DoubleClick UK’s managing director Andy Mitchell.

Mark Danby, general manager of Freeserve, predicts that paid-for ISPs will face increasing pressure from the launch of other free services in 1999.

According to Mitchell, Freeserve offers advertisers the opportunity to get in touch with a different type of Internet user: “Forty-two per cent of Freeserve users are new to the Internet, 50 per cent are earning 19,000 or less – meaning that Freeserve doesn’t just offer access to high-earning households,” says Mitchell.

“Freeserve is expanding the market and the demographic user base. Its user base is a truer reflection of the consumer market,” he adds. “That’s great for attracting consumer brands, and I believe there will be pressure on sites to offer a broader demographic, so that companies such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble can get into this market.”

Both Danby and Mitchell accept that the strength of Freeserve’s appeal in the online advertising market depends on whether it can maintain traffic on Freeserve. Improving the content of the site is a priority: “We are expecting to have 20 channels by early next year, including travel, money, motoring, and education content,” says Danby.

“We hope to encourage people not to change their Freeserve default homepage. But as there are not really that many other UK-focused portal sites, we should be successful.”

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