Blinkx Offers Video Ad Overlays for the Masses

Video search engine blinkx, which recently introduced a contextual ad matching service for video content called AdHoc, has expanded that offering to allow anyone to make money from text overlay ads inserted into clips.

Dubbed AdHoc Widget, the product lets any publisher — be they Web site owner, blogger or social net junkie — combine embed codes for videos hosted by YouTube, MySpace Videos and similar services with the blinkx ad matching and insertion technology. Blinkx spits out a new bit of code that, when pasted onto a Web page, serves text-based overlay ads on that video clip wherever it’s syndicated.

Those ads will come from third party networks such as those operated by MIVA, Yahoo and Microsoft. After the networks take their cut, Blinkx will split ad sales revenue 50/50 with end users, distributing payments via PayPal.

There is potential for abuse with such a system, as pointed out by search experts, and acknowledged by blinkx. For instance, AdHoc’s amateur publisher partners could run ads against copyrighted content on their Web pages, disrupting existing relationships between content owners and video platforms. Or they could create “made for AdSense” video sites with low-quality content that exist solely to generate click revenue.

Blinkx CEO Suranga Chandratillake said the text ad networks it plans to use will prevent such abuse. “We’ve avoided the [networks] that tend to be more full of click fraud,” he said. “Those networks are very cheap. They don’t pay well.”

Chandratillake argued the more reputable ad networks police the use of their syndicated listings and “have mechanisms in place to trap that kind of activity.” Though some may argue relying on large text-based ad networks to police abuse enabled by its own technology may seem a risky and irresponsible strategy for blinkx, he maintains AdHoc Widget users should be held individually accountable. “Once somebody picks up video and puts it on their site, it’s up to them how to monetize.”

AdHoc Widget users will be able to choose from two ad formats. The first is a small text box that appears above the player, outside the video frame. The other is an overlay, displaying on top of the video itself. The ad unit works by sending a request for relevant ads whenever anyone views a video that’s been spliced — hence indexed and ad enabled — with blinkx’s own code. Chandratillake said the product will allow advertisers that may not be able to afford to produce their own video spots to advertise in video nonetheless.

“It’s great if you are a big company with a large marketing budget and a great agency,” he said. “If you’re a smaller company, it’s hard to do that right now. We’re hoping this will build a marketplace that will make this possible.”

Google is also hoping to extend its already massive marketplace through the introduction of a video content network supported by AdSense text and display ads, announced yesterday.

Why work with multiple ad networks, rather than a single partner? By comparing them, blinkx hopes to gauge their relative performance and compatibility with the everyman video monetization scheme. “They all have self-service feeds,” Chandratillake said. “It’s about trying to figure out which have the best ads for our particular context.”

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