IAR Bits and Bytes

MSN, Homestore Ink Content Deal

Microsoft’s MSN and online real estate company Homestore announced on Wednesday a multiyear deal for Homestore’s new home and apartment content to appear on MSN’s House & Home channel.

Under terms of the deal, Homestore will provide content in the new home and apartment areas, providing MSN users with access to 100,000 new home listings and 6.5 million apartment communities through its Homebuilder.com and Homestore Apartments & Rentals sites. The integration is expected to be complete in the next few months, the companies said.

The exact length of the deal and financial details were not disclosed.

MSN has sought partnerships with content providers like Homestore to populate some sections of its portal. For example, MortgageSelect.com handles the loans section of the House & Home channel. In February, MSN inked a multiyear deal with Primedia’s RealEstate.com to provide real estate listings and related tools. It also has deals with ConsumerInfo.com and Builder HomeSite.

Sprinks Deepens CBS MarketWatch Context-Ad Deal

Contextual advertising provider Sprinks announced on Wednesday that it expanded its relationship with CBS MarketWatch to gain more exposure for its text-link advertisements.

CBS MarketWatch, which has been using Sprinks since the beginning of the year, will now feature its contextually relevant text-link ads on more pages throughout MarketWatch.com, including placements on the homepage and in e-mail newsletters. The links will gain more visibility, too, with CBS MarketWatch moving them up on the page and increasing the number to five.

Sprinks, a division of Primedia’s About , provides text listings on content pages by mapping a site’s pages to a taxonomy that matches them up with the appropriate advertisers. Unlike Google and Overture Services, which have competing contextual-advertising products, Sprinks does not rely on algorithmic search to determine which ad to run.

In addition to its deal with CBS MarketWatch, Sprinks has deals to provide contextual links on Forbes.com and MSNBC. The company has tested its product on Yahoo!, but the portal’s recent deal with Overture puts a long-term relationship in doubt.

Research: Search Works for Finance, Travel

ComScore Networks and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released research showing the effectiveness of search marketing for the travel and financial industries.

Using data culled from comSearch panels, the research found that paid search listings generated four times the click-through rates of listings in the main results body for both categories. In financial services, the disparity was even greater, with paid search performing nine times better.

Overall, comScore tracked an 18.3 percent click-through rate for paid results, and 4.3 percent for main-body results. In travel, paid listings garnered a 16.1 percent rate, as compared to a 5.4 percent rate in the main body of results. In financial services, paid search listings garnered a 26.3 percent rate, while main body results came in at a 3 percent rate.

ComScore theorized that finance performed so well due to search phrase specialization and market maturity.

In the three-month period prior to June, comScore estimates 2 million customers applied for a financial services product and the travel industry booked $200 million in response to a paid listings.

The study found broad enthusiasm among search marketers, with three out of four expressing satisfaction with the results. Nearly half said they planned to spend more on search marketing in the next year.

The IAB is trumpeting the study’s findings in a road show that was in San Francisco on Tuesday. It will continue on to Chicago on Thursday, then to New York next Monday.

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