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Adauction ventures outdoors

The online broker for buying and selling ad space adds outdoor advertising to its billings, starting with an auction for a prime real-estate billboard near Silicon Valley.

Going once, going twice: a big empty billboard sold.

Indeed,, an online broker for buying and selling ad space, is now adding outdoor advertising to its listings.

On Thursday, the San Francisco-based company will kick off the new category with a two-day auction of billboard advertising space on a prime stretch of California's Highway 101. The privately owned billboard is located near San Francisco International Airport on the main route to Silicon Valley.

The auction is the first of many planned by the San Francisco-based company, which initially launched to attract Web publishers that needed to auction off surplus banner ad space at the end of the month.

Adauction typically takes a 30 percent commission on all online banner ad sales, which are made at a discount rate to spark a fast sell. The privately held company competes with other online ad brokers including DoubleClick, Flycast Communications, and 24/7 Media.

Neil Cohen, senior vice president at, said in an interview that the company already has had 10 inquiries from buyers interested in renting the billboard, which about 175,000 drivers pass daily.

"This is just a start," said Cohen. Through the auctions, buyers will be able to buy space on billboards for several months instead of signing a typical several year contract, Cohen said. He added that the company soon plans to expand outdoor ad auctions from the San Francisco area to also include Los Angeles, New York, and Boston.