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updated with more details, plus screenshot

Ad network Federated Media announced an analytics service for advertisers it hopes will help them better manage the growing perplexity of online branding efforts.

Federated is in a land-grab, trying to sign up publishers so that it can make money by serving advertising to them. FM gets the advertising, in turn, from large brands. By helping brands, FM clearly hopes to serve its publishers better. That’s the only way it can hope to keep publishers in its fold, which it is struggling — sometimes successfully, sometimes not — to do.

FM’s new service also helps advertisers tracks ad performance and reader engagement across the labyrinth of social media sites and other platforms that have become too arcane for even the largest brands to fully understand. [Update: It tracks standard metrics such as pageviews, and clickthroughs, but also attempts to measure brand metrics, such as “lift” and “buzz” and social metrics like “comments” and “tweets.”]

Called the Conversational Marketing Toolbox, the service is designed to “build visibility and accountability into today’s eclectic media and marketing mix consisting of IAB advertising, sponsorships, video advertising, widgets, social networking applications, conversational media hubs and more,” the firm said in a statement announcing the toolbox.

Social networks and other social web sites are steadily replacing television, radio and newspapers as forms of communication and entertainment. But few advertisers are comfortable buying ads beyond the traditional media they’re used to.

The toolbox, if effective, could make Federated a go-to place for social media advertising. It remains unclear however, what exactly it will measure. FM offered few details in its announcement. We’ll update once we hear back from the company.

FM did say it will collect and analyze internal data from companies and from third-party analytics services. It will be presented in a dashboard interface that lets an advertiser track how users interact with the ad. The data will also be made available through an application programming interface (API), so that other developers can build on it.

Federated says it has several major brand marketers and traffic analysis firms involved as beta partners.

The Sausalito, Calif. company doesn’t like to call itself an ad network. It sees itself, instead, as a sort of representation firm for online content creators. It has taken some heat from bloggers — and investors — for having a model that doesn’t seem sustainable. The company has seem some of the sites it represents leave it for more profitable deals. (FM serves ads to VentureBeat and many other popular blogs).

Social news site Digg switched advertising providers from Federated to Microsoft last year; another larger Federated-represented blog, Ars Technica, was more recently sold to Conde Naste. But Federated has also been bringing in more talent. Is recently said it had won DeveloperShed as a client, and said today it will represent hardware news site AnandTech, as well as former PC World editor Harry McCracken’s forthcoming site, Technologizer.

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