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Z is for Zedo

By Ken Liebeskind
March 26, 2001
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Z is for Zedo, the company that has developed a new Web ad serving technology that lets user s choose the type of ads they'd like to see on a site.

Zedo Self Targeting is the application developed by the company, which is sold to companies to install on their sites. Zedo's first big customers are Cybereps, the Internet advertising rep firm and Talkcity.com. Go to their sites and "Zedo pick your ad" appears on the home page. Mouse over it and a menu drops down with a series of product categories. After users select a category they will only see those kinds of ads whenever they return to the site or any other site served by Zedo. If the site hasn't sold enough ads in that category, they will see general ads from a run of rotation.

The product categories Zedo offers are computing, entertainment, electronics, autos, home, vacation and travel, special offers, fashion and personal finance.

"Advertisers are looking for something different because there needs to be a new way of doing it," says Roy de Souza, Zedo's CEO. "It's simple for advertisers because customers choose their category."

It's a major change from the way ads are typically sent to users by large ad servers like DoubleClick whose click stream technology profiles users based on their Web activity and sends them related advertising. "They track user behavior on the Net, which is a privacy issue that is wrong and unethical," says Mike Warsinske, CEO of Cybereps. "Zeno's self serving technology is better and more in line with how advertisers traditionally purchase advertising."

He compares the Zeno system to opt-in email, since users "tell you what they want to see."

He also says it provides a selling point for his sales reps who can sell advertising that is requested by users. "It gives you a qualifying premium you can sell to advertisers," he says.

When asked what sites he'd use Zedo on, he specifically mentioned Fgn.com, a portal game site and totalwoman.com. "Potentially it could go across all properties," he says.

Warsinske also says Zedo offers "a good pedigree from a financial standpoint." The privately held company received $2.25 million in first round investment from Artiman Ventures and Esther Dyson. De Souza says, "We're just about to close another round."

The company, with a home base in San Francisco and engineers working in India, was founded in 1999.

Its only problem is timing. It is introducing a new ad serving technology when there are few ads to serve because of the dot-com fallout.