You're surfing the Web, checking out what's on A&E tonight, when an ad pops up for the movie theater around the block. Is Loews paying to advertise to a vast international audience for one little movie house in Maryland? Nope. The website just knows who its user is--a film buff on a Mac in Baltimore. That's the idea behind DoubleClick, the Net's most successful ad firm. Kevin O'Connor launched DoubleClick in 1996 with the goal of delivering a well-targeted audience to his advertising clients. Using controversial software called cookies, DoubleClick sites can snoop on users' browsing habits, sometimes picking up such critical information as zip codes. O'Connor is experienced at steering promising start-ups--at 21 he founded a software company that eventually posted yearly revenues of $35 million.
1998 POWER PLAY DoubleClick went public in February and in one month its shares more than doubled in price. In July the company rolled out its localized ad service, allowing businesses to target particular communities.
PLACE YOUR BETS Most analysts say it's still too soon to tell, but some call DoubleClick a moderate buy.