Google is getting a new competitor.
Widget maker Clearspring Technologies on Dec. 10 said it plans to launch an ad network to help its more than 70 media publishing customers make money from their content.
Geared for social networks, start pages and blogs, the Widget Ad Network serves ads within publishers' widgets, which are mini applications designed to engender user interaction on Web sites.
Showing the ads in widgets, which pop up on Web sites, is an alternative to showing them as banner ads, which tend to get ignored on social network sites. Advertisers believe using widgets to market their products will get more people to view and interact with the advertisement.
Clearspring, which will roll out the Widget Ad Network in the first quarter of 2008, is not the first vendor to venture down this road. Google began offering a beta of Google Gadget Ads on Sept. 19 to help advertisers target audiences.
However, Peggy Fry, senior vice president at Clearspring, said that while Google Gadget Ads are designed to run on the Google content network, Clearspring's widget ads will run on any blogs, start pages or social networks.
The competition is likely to be friendly; Google and Clearspring are partners, and are working on how to make Clearspring's widgets run on Google's network.
Click here to read about AOL's video ads.
The Widget Ad Network offers six in-widget advertising formats. Publishers decide which advertisers will be allowed to place ads within their widgets, using Clearspring's domain blacklisting, tracking and analytics tools to provide greater control over widget and ad placement.
Clearspring also helps its customers monitor where, how much and how often the widgets and their ads are viewed.
Ads supported by Clearspring will live within widget content that users can interact with; the idea is to keep the users on a Web site longer.
While the Widget Ad Network formally launched today, it has already attracted some early supporters. The Huffington Post, the National Hockey League, Twentieth Century Fox Television and others are looking to put their content in front of more people.
Moreover, Blockbuster and Lionsgate Films have signed up as charter advertisers on the Widget Ad Network to reach the social media audience.
Clearspring will use technology from online ad provider PointRoll to incorporate rich media ads into the Widget Ad Network.
In turn, advertisers using PointRoll will now be able to use Clearspring's viral sharing technology to push out what PointRoll calls SnaggableAds, which have a widget component that can be easily grabbed from any PointRoll ad unit and shared across social networks, blogs and start pages.
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