BidClix to Offer Co-branded Ad Serving

BidClix plans to introduce a turnkey, co-branded version of its ad serving solution in January, ClickZ News has learned. It will give advertisers an alternative to display ad networks, while offering some of the benefits of paid search.

“With the rise of paid search has come the rise of a new market segment. The small and medium businesses that are buying paid search really weren’t advertising online before,” said Paul Needham, president of BidClix. “Many publishers haven’t been able to serve that market, except through a third party.”

Needham believes by offering advertisers a system that makes it easy to sign up and manage ads, publishers can bring the ease of paid search management to in-page ads, and maintain a direct relationship with advertisers. Advertisers sign up, create a text ad, and choose from 35 content channels, such as health, sports, or finance, to bid for CPC rates.

BidClix has already implemented the technology on a handful of sites. Needham declined comment on specific publishers the company is working with, but BidClix ads have been spotted on Microsoft’s Hotmail network, among other places. An automated publisher sign-up and management process will be implemented before the co-branded solution is formally launched next month.

BidClix’s average CPC rate is $0.38, the minimum is $0.05. Volume will vary by publisher. Throughout its network, BidClix serves 1.1 billion ads per month, reaching 25 million individual consumers in the U.S. and international markets.

Publishers display up to three text ads in the space of a 300×250 or 160×600 display ad unit. These spots will rotate the top 10 ads in a channel based on the advertisers’ bids, so the top bidders for each channel get the majority of impressions.

“The rest get enough of a taste of potential traffic to help them decide what a click is worth,” Needham added.

When a publisher signs up for the program, a human editor categorizes the site, so ads relevant to the site’s category will be shown. Needham admits that the process leads to less targeted ads than keyword-based approaches like paid search, but the higher volume makes up for that, he said.

“A lot of advertisers love paid search, but find they don’t get enough leads. There are only so many people searching for your product every day. You have to be there — it’s essential, and it’s efficient — but it’s not enough,” Needham said.

Publishers can serve ads from advertisers the publisher has signed up, from existing advertisers in the BidClix network, or from other providers the publisher has a relationship with, such as Overture or FindWhat. “If we’re providing a technology solution, it shouldn’t be biased toward BidClix ads,” Needham said.

The BidClix network ads allow the publisher to “back-fill” the site’s inventory to create immediate competition in the CPC bidding. Publishers keep 60 percent of the revenue from these ads, and 80 percent of revenue that comes from advertisers the publisher signed itself.

“We can take a smaller cut because we don’t need to support a large sales organization to sell inventory,” Needham said.

BidClix began building its original ad network in April 2001. There are now over 5,200 publishers serving targeted text ads from 10,400 advertisers in BidClix’s network. Earlier this month, the company announced the first private-label deal for its ActiveMarket technology. Bell Canada licensed ActiveMarket for its Sympatico.MSN.ca portal, operated jointly with MSN Canada. Where the private label version is aimed at large publishers, portals and ISPs, the co-branded service will be targeted at small and mid-sized publishers, Needham said.

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