Ask.com To Launch Contextual Advertising Product

Ask.com is launching a new sponsored listings contextual product and will go live the week of May 21st.

The Ask contextual product will initially launch within IAC’s own network of sites including Match.com, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch and will then expand to trusted third party publishers. Individual publishers will most likely have to wait until next quarter to gain access to this contextual product.

Current Ask Sponsored Listings advertisers will be automatically opted into the contextual network, but will have the option of opting out before the product launches. In addition, advertisers will be able to preview the features and controls they have, prior to the launch date. The advertiser controls will be separated; there will be unique bid prices for contextual ads as well as unique, separate reporting tools, and referrer blocking.

The publishers will have two unique features that are not currently available in the Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network. Publishers will be able to set “page yield thresholds” and set “relevancy thresholds.” There will be levers to allow publisher to determine if they want higher paying ads or if they want more relevant ads with these levers. In addition, the ads will be unique from that of Google and Yahoo ads. Ask told me that they will allow “very customized” interfaces for the contextual ads; such as customized backgrounds and graphics.

Let me just clarify one more time that they will first launch with IAC’s own network and trusted publishers, then possibly, in the next quarter, allow other third party publishers sign up to the contextual program.

Here is the full release:

IAC Advertising Solutions Announces Contextual Advertising Product

Contextual advertising offering creates new revenue options for publishers, expands distribution options for Ask Sponsored Listings advertisers

OAKLAND, Calif. – April 25, 2007 – IAC Advertising Solutions (IACAS), a wholly-owned business of IAC (Nasdaq; IACI), today announced a contextual advertising product that enables publishers to generate revenue via contextually-relevant ad units on their content pages. The contextual product is integrated into the Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) platform and allows ASL advertisers to seamlessly extend their pay per click advertising campaigns to content pages. Reaching over 34 million unique users each month the ASL content advertising network will launch with sites from IAC’s portfolio of brands including Match.com, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch.

“IAC Advertising Solutions already operates the 3rd largest search advertising network1. We’ve achieved this scale by providing innovative and flexible monetization solutions to more than 90 publishers. We are excited about this new offering and the expanded set of publishers that we’ll be able to serve through a content advertising network.” said James Speer, GM Search Marketing at IAC Advertising Solutions.

IACAS continues to make significant investments in people and technology to better support a growing network of publishers. “We have consistently heard that publishers want more diversity in their revenue streams and transparency into the true value of their inventory. We fully expect that our new contextual product will satisfy the needs of these content owners” said Speer.

The value of contextual lies in its ability to deliver relevant high yield advertisements deep within the content channels of web properties. As a result publishers are free to focus resources on other revenue streams including integrated brand sponsorships. The ASL contextual product provides superior sell through today for publishers of technology, telecommunications, travel, automotive, real estate and finance content.

Contextual Advertising Features and Benefits

Increased Page Yield Higher revenues due to an established and growing advertiser base Improved relevance and higher yields than ROS/RON CPM ads Customizable yield thresholds to support page yield management Self-serve revenue reporting portal Revenue reporting across multiple channels and products

Enhanced Editorial Control Customization of ad look and feel (background color, font, layout, graphics) Customizable relevancy settings to meet user experience goals Editorial control of advertisers (competitive advertiser blocking) Editorial categorization of site pages is supported

Improved Integration Capabilities Contextual ad tags can be served via existing publisher ad servers (i.e. DFP, AdManager) Standardized ad tags promote quick and easy implementations with little or no maintenance

The Ask Sponsored Listings contextual product will be available during the week of May 21st. For more information publishers can send email to bizdev@ask.com

1 Source: comScore and internal data, January 2007

About Ask Sponsored Listings Ask Sponsored Listings, introduced in the Fall of 2005, is an automated open-auction system allowing marketers to purchase, manage and optimize campaigns on Ask.com and its publisher network. The ASL search advertising network is now the 3rd largest reaching 61.4 million monthly unique users. More than 30,000 advertisers use the system to bid on more than 25 million keywords. Additional information about ASL is available at http://sponsoredlistings.ask.com

IAC Advertising Solutions is also demonstrating its commitment to stemming click fraud as a member of the IAB Task Force on the issue.

About IAC Advertising Solutions One the world’s largest online advertising solutions and sales groups, IAC Advertising Solutions offers complete solutions for a variety of communication needs and a comprehensive range of advertising products, including search, media, and direct marketing. Search solutions include Ask Sponsored Listings, an automated open-auction system allowing marketers to purchase, manage and optimize campaigns on Ask.com and its advertising syndication network. Media solutions include online templated ad units and integrated sponsorships, as well as offline media capabilities on IAC’s network of leading online brands, including Ticketmaster Citysearch, Evite, Match.com, iWon, Excite, and Expedia. Direct Marketing solutions include email, lead generation, co-registration, sweepstakes and promotions. IAC Advertising Solutions is a division of IAC Search & Media, a wholly-owned business of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI). IAC Advertising Solutions can be contacted at www.iacadvertising.com or 212-404-1000.

Postscript: Marchex released a press release that shows they are one of the few early contextual ad partners in this program.

Marchex, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHX, MCHXP), in conjunction with its IndustryBrains subsidiary, today announced that it has signed contextual advertising agreements with four online publishers, including Computer Shopper, Engineering.com, Wall Street Reporter, and SitePoint. Under the agreements, Marchex will provide its contextual advertising solutions to selected areas of the publishers’ Web sites, or to channels associated with the sites, such as targeted newsletters and blogs.

Postscript #2: The Ask.com Blog just covered this explaining that this product different from the competitors because of three reasons:

* It gives publishers more control over yield and relevancy
* It gives publishers more creative ad unit opportunities
* It allows both advertisers and publishers more control over where and what ads are displayed


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Related Topics: Ask: Sponsored Listings | Channel: SEM | Search Ads: Contextual

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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