Ask Jeeves Adds New Ad Opportunities

In a bid to better monetize its audience of twelve million unique monthly users, Ask Jeeves on Monday unveiled several new spots for sale on its pages, including big chunks of real estate on the pages returned to users with their search results.

The first new offering is within the search results themselves. On Ask Jeeves’ search return pages, several questions pop up near the top, and users pick the one that they believe will best provide the information they’re looking for. What Ask Jeeves is offering advertisers is a chance to provide that information, when appropriate, and the company has already signed up several advertisers.

When a user’s question could be answered by an encyclopedia, a link to Britannica.com will appear. When it is determined to be a health question, the link would offer OnHealth. And how-to questions would return links to eHow.

Some might consider this to be a blurring of the line between editorial and advertising concerns, but execs at Ask Jeeves defend the new ad space by saying that users will only be directed to these places when they are the best, or at least equally good, places to find the appropriate information. These links won’t be identified as advertisements, though, so users won’t necessarily know that Ask Jeeves was paid to place that information before their eyes.

The next new space is what execs at Ask Jeeves call a “dynamic response module.” Rather than just being a banner that pops up in response to a keyword or question, an entire block of content from a sponsor would appear in the center of the page. As an example, a health question would prompt the appearance of a content module from OnHealth.

It’s a great way to go beyond the banner, says Jeffrey Mahl, vice president of advertising sales for Ask Jeeves. “I can’t focus always on banners, because there’s a lot more out there.”

The third new advertising space that Ask Jeeves is offering to advertisers are sponsored text links, which appear under the words “Visit Our Sponsors.” With these text links, Ask Jeeves hopes to appeal to smaller advertisers. There’s no need for them to come up with expensive creative, and the company has come up with a system whereby they can purchase online using a credit card. Like on sites like GoTo.com and FindWhat.com, these text links will be operated on a bidding system, so that those willing to pay more will have their ads seen before those of lower-paying advertisers. Ask Jeeves is also syndicating these sponsored text links, and sharing revenues with their partner sites, to increase their range of distribution.

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