CyberGold Awarded Patent for “Attention Brokerage”

Reward-based marketer CyberGold said it received a U.S. patent for “Attention Brokerage and Orthogonal Sponsorship,” giving the firm broad protection over the distribution of online incentives to consumers interacting with Internet ads.

CyberGold said the patent gives the company the sole right to pay consumers online incentives–including cash, points, frequent flyer miles or other forms of compensation–whenever consumers demonstrate that they paid attention to an ad or marketing message or participated in an online loyalty program.

The patent covers systems and methods for attention brokerage in an electronic information delivery network using incentives or compensation, CyberGold said. Implications for other rewards marketers are unclear, but you can bet that execs are conferring with corporate lawyers.

The patent also covers another CyberGold invention called “Orthogonal Sponsorship,” which is designed to allow advertiser-sponsors to detach their ads from specific program content and explicitly target their audiences. For example, the company said, a consumer earns a CyberGold cash incentive for participating in an online focus group, then turns around and buys a CD from a Web site with that cash.

“We are interested in licensing CyberGold technology to any company offering rewards or incentives for consumer actions on the Web,” said Nat Goldhaber, CyberGold CEO. “Right now we are studying the infringement issues, but our attitude is ‘Come on in.’ We want to encourage the continued growth of the incentives market by making attention brokerage affordable for companies currently offering online rewards that may be infringing on our patent.”

CyberGold said it so far matched up hundreds of advertisers and marketers with more than 780,000 CyberGold account holders. CyberGold accountholders receive cash rewards for paying attention to the advertisers’ online marketing messages.

Incentives are paid for things like viewing advertisements, visiting Web sites, downloading software or information, or making purchases. Users can then transfer their cash to a personal Visa card, a bank account or a non- profit organization. Privately held CyberGold receives a fee on the transactions.

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