Blinkx Teams With Miva for Smart Ads

Video search engine blinkx has unveiled its first attempts at monetizing the service, signing a deal with Miva to supply contextual ads for its new Smart Ads platform.

The platform is still in its earliest phases, but by Spring, blinkx expects to display geo-targeted, content-related paid-listings from Miva to users of the blinkx toolbar and the blinkx.tv video search engine. Ads will be targeted both from Miva’s own metadata stored with its ads, as well as data blinkx extracts from the ads with its search technology.

The blinkx toolbar can search a user’s desktop, the Web, or blinkx’s library of indexed video content, either with an explicit keyword search or through an implicit contextual method based on content a user is viewing, such as a Web site, a word processing document, or email.

While some users may balk at seeing ads targeted against a personal document viewed on their computer, blinkx co-founder and CTO Suranga Chandratillake sees it as the next step in contextually-targeted advertising. He believes most online advertising hasn’t taken advantage of the targeting capabilities made possible by the medium.

“The Internet allows you to be a lot smarter about what ads you show and when you show them. Keyword search advertising is a powerful example of that, but it’s only the first step,” Chandratillake told ClickZ News. “The premise there is if you know what words someone just searched for, you show them an ad related to that word. What we’re saying is if you know what someone is doing, you can advertise to them based on that task.”

Chandratillake said Smart Ads should be available for the blinkx toolbar by March or April, with the easier blinkx.tv implementation coming a month or so after that. “There’s no external pressure on us to complete it, so we’ll take as long as we need to make sure it works,” he added.

For Miva, the deal represents an opportunity to boost traffic on its network, as well as to provide advertisers with some new targeting opportunities through blinkx. The deal is even more valuable to Miva because it represents a validation of its globalization efforts, which included a worldwide rebranding of the former FindWhat and eSpotting divisions under the Miva name, CMO Seb Bishop told ClickZ News.

“This is the first time we’ve seen a global deal come out of London,” Bishop said. “It’s important to us to see our new sales office generating a global deal.”

Blinkx has steadily added features to its search tools over the past year, but hasn’t until now had a clear monetization strategy. It launched its desktop search tool in July 2004, adding “smart folders,” a tool that automatically indexes and updates content into folders, in November. It debuted blinkx.tv video search in December, and has spent much of the time since then forging content partnerships to boost the size of its video library.

The company now searches video content from several sports, news and entertainment providers, including HBO, Atom Films, IT Conversations, ManiaTV, Fox News, The New York Times, and user-generated content from podcasts and video blogs.

On Monday, blinkx extended its smart folders concept to video search, launching my blinkx.tv. The new tool lets users create customizable video channels by saving a search whose results can be viewed as a single media stream, either online or downloaded to a PC or portable device. Users can also upload their own non-commercial video content, which is searchable by other blinkx.tv users.

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