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Affinia Starts Product Placement Ad Network

Affinia, which until now has helped Web sites set up virtual storefronts offering products from major e-tailers, Monday kicked off its latest effort -- an advertising network that lets e-tailers place products in context on vertical content sites.

"You can think of it as very similar to DoubleClick or Flycast," said Kris Hagerman, Affinia's founder and chief executive officer, "except instead of streaming ad banners, we stream products."

The network, for which Affinia is beginning to collect sites, will be made up of properties that get over 250,000 impressions a month. Site owners will be paid on a CPM basis, earning at least a $2 CPM, and more if performance is good.

Advertisers, on the other hand, will pay Affinia on a per-click basis, with the fee varying from deal to deal. The company has a technology to track the clicks, and determine which users actually go through to a transaction. Using that information, Affinia will be able to optimize the product ad placement.

The idea is to present a beyond-the-banner (and complementary to the banner) opportunity for e-tailers to reach advertisers. The ad is about the same size as a banner, but is more vertical than horizontal. Because of the large number of products offered by any given e-tailer, Affinia has more opportunities to tailor the placement pretty tightly to the content it's being presented with.

"Our hope is to create a new breed of ad network that is really optimized to sell stuff," said Hagerman. "The more relevant the product placements are, the more they feel like content."