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Ask Enters Contextual Ad Space

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Sites under the IAC arcology will be the first to display contextual advertising from the Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) network, with an interesting twist on what gets displayed.

Ask Enters Contextual Ad Space
Ask Enters Contextual Ad Space

We chatted with IAC’s James Speer, GM for Search Marketing, ahead of today’s announcement. Ask will extend its ASL program to pay per click, contextual ad units to be displayed on publisher websites. For now, those sites will be ones in the IAC family, like Match.com and TicketMaster.

Speer said the same sort of bid structure will be in place for contextual ads just as it is for search advertising. The existing management tools ASL clients use will allow those customers to break out the contextual reports and see their performance.

Contextual advertising gives Ask and IAC more diversity in what they can offer to marketers. Speer was not ready to discuss the new product in terms of interest from potential third party publishers, though they will have more news in the future.

He also suggested watching their search advertising growth for hints as to where they are going. ASL started two years ago, and has grown to reach 34 million unique users per month.

We were interested in ad relevancy with the new contextual product. Yahoo has made a lot of noise about ad relevance in their new search advertising system, moving from a bid price-first approach to one that weights quality more heavily.

On Ask’s contextual product, Speer said: "From a publisher perspective, they have a lot more control." Publishers will be able to tune what their sites display on a relevancy basis. A site publisher can choose to show the most highly relevant ads.

This permits the site publisher to maintain a quality user experience, according to Speer. He cited Match.com, an online dating site under IAC, as one that’s going to demand its ad experience stays in line with what users expect.

Clients will be able to customize the yield thresholds and manage their page yields, to help weight their ad displays by what ads pay or by their relevance.

Ad customization for look and feel, and editorial categorization of site pages, will also be among the enhanced editorial control Ask plans to offer with the new service. It will be a few weeks before the contextual product becomes available. Ask cited the week of May 21st as the time it will debut.

Ask Enters Contextual Ad Space
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