RealTime IT News

Sprinks Offers Paid Listings on Content Pages, E-Mail

Paid listings provider Sprinks, a unit of Primedia unit About, announced on Monday new pay-for-performance advertising products designed to move paid listings beyond the search pages and onto content pages and e-mail marketing messages.

Sprinks now offers advertisers the option of buying listings on content pages running on iVillage and Forbes as part of its ContentSprinks network. The ads, which consist of between three and five listings, appear in a box below the content on these sites. Likewise, DirectSprinks will provide paid listings in opt-in e-mail newsletters from the two publishers and CNET Networks.

"Pay-for-performance is hot," said Lance Podell, Sprinks' general manager. "Advertisers want more. All they tell us is the keyword business isn't enough."

The two new ad programs join Sprinks' KeywordSprinks listings that appear across the About network and at second-tier search sites like Mama.com and Dogpile. Podell said the company's advertiser network varies between 12,000 and 15,000.

Sprinks announcement of its offering, which has been available on About since October, comes just days after Google began offering similar contextual advertising. Google's "Content-Targeted AdWords" program uses the company's search technology to find appropriate keyword listings for sites' content pages. So far, Google's listings are available of HowStuffWorks.com, Blogger and WeatherUnderground.

ContentSprinks differs from Google's offering in key ways. First, ContentSprinks and DirectSprnks advertisers do not buy keywords. Instead, they choose from the 1,100 topics Sprinks has developed. Publishers in the Sprinks network map their sites to encompass these topics, and others they may generate, so that appropriate listings appear on the content pages.

Podell said this was one of the offering's major strengths. Another he pointed out is Sprinks' paid listings are positioned close to the relevant content, unlike the Google ads that appear in skyscraper or banner space.

Finally, the ContentSprinks and DirectSprinks will be offered to customers as an add-on service, unlike Google, which plans to integrate its targeted paid listings ads into its AdWords program. (AdWords customers can opt to have their listings not appear on content pages.)

Podell said the company has high hopes for the offering. With only three to five links on the page, he said advertisers could assure themselves of a premium placement for a reasonable price. Because of this assured premium placement, instead of the possibility of an advertiser's listing appearing on the third or fourth page of search results, Podell said Sprinks could change more for ContentSprinks ads. For example, he said the minimum bid for ContentSprinks listings was 20 cents versus a nickel for KeywordSprinks listings.

The raging success of the paid search business has led to paid listings moving off the search results page. In addition to Google's targeted ads with paid listings, archrival Overture plans to roll out a similar offering soon. Publishers are keen to tap into this lucrative sector of online advertising, particularly content sites that do not have a high volume of search traffic.