DoubleClick Ends Higher Despite Ad Delivery Problems

A coding bug caused technical difficulties at the Internet advertising company today. But investors were unfazed.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Internet advertising firm DoubleClick (DCLK) suffered a major problem delivering ads to Web sites Thursday afternoon.

The Internet advertising leader, which has a network that places banner ads on about 7,400 sites worldwide, served those ads onto Web pages either after lengthy delays or not at all. The difficulty, which began around 2 p.m. and appeared to be fixed about 2 1/2 hours later, affected numerous well-known sites, including those run by

Macromedia

(MACR)

,

Sabre

(TSG) - Get Report

and

TheStreet.com

(TSCM)

. It did not appear to affect one of DoubleClick's biggest clients,

Compaq's

(CPQ)

AltaVista

. DoubleClick said "less than half" of the sites to which it serves ads were affected, and all of those sites were in the United States.

The advertising glitch, coming in the wake of

eBay's

(EBAY) - Get Report

well-publicized recent outages, is another example of how real-world difficulties can get in the way of the ideally smooth-running world of Internet advertising and commerce. The DoubleClick outage, which didn't cripple sites, was caused by "a bug in our code" introduced during an upgrade in DoubleClick's system, according to spokeswoman Amy Shapiro.

An outage like this "is absolutely rare," Shapiro says. "Maybe once a year it happens. Sites are affected maybe 30 minutes."

One DoubleClick client agreed. "They're pretty reliable," says Alex Pantaler, Webmaster of the

Comics.com

and

Dilbert Zone

Web sites of

E.W. Scripps's

(SSP) - Get Report

United Media

unit.

Shapiro says that DoubleClick would not have to compensate clients for the time that it had problems delivering ads. "We commit to serving 99.5% of the time, and we're still delivering on that promise," she says.

Despite the problems, DoubleClick finished up 3 11/16, or 3.8%, at 100 7/16. The company expects to report earnings July 19.

--

George Mannes

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

commanded much of the Net sector's attention today after its solid earnings

report on Wednesday.

But Yahoo! fell prey to the buy-the-rumor, sell-the-fact mentality that has hit the stock in the past after reporting earnings. It finished the day down 2 5/8, or 1.6%, at 164 7/16 after trading as high as 175 1/4 early in the session.

The other big story that developed late in the day was a possible buyout of Internet Service Provider

MindSpring Enterprises

(MSPG)

. There were rumors that the company would be bought, with

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

a potential suitor. Rumors flew on reports that MindSpring had canceled an analysts' meeting for next week. MindSpring ended up 8 1/16, or 18%, at 53 5/16, while Dell finished up 1 5/8, or 4%, at 39 15/16.

Also benefiting from the news was

EarthLink Network

(ELNK)

, another ISP. It finished up 5 1/16, or 8%, at 70 1/2.

On the downside, shares of

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

suffered following a negative piece in the

Heard on the Street

column in today's

Wall Street Journal

. The article noted that a few analysts feel the upcoming quarter results will be a letdown to some investors and that the second half of the year could bring even more disappointments. eBay closed down 4 1/16, or 3%, at 134 3/16.