Library Science Meets Advertising

Content Directions Inc. (CDI) has taken a technology largely used by publishers to maintain permanent links to book and journal information, and adapted it for use in interactive advertising.

The MultiLink technology uses JavaScript to show a drop-down menu with multiple links when a user mouses over an ad that has been appropriately tagged. Though other rich media publishers have expandable display ad formats, a MultiLink can also be applied to a text ad. More importantly, CDI’s technology is unique in giving advertisers the ability to add, edit, or redirect the links using a central update process.

“Being able to make the most of an ad is about drawing the interested viewer into the areas where an ad is most likely to pay off. Rather than relying purely on getting the right ad in front of the viewer, this technology allows the generally interested viewer to select the more specific context that’s right for them,” said John Blossom, president of analyst firm Shore Communications.

“It’s like being able to be brought not just to the front door of the department store, or to a specific department in the store, but rather like being able to look at the store directory and find the exact department that meets my needs — and then get there immediately,” he added.

The first advertiser to deploy a MultiLink-enabled ad is VoIP technology provider Epygi Technologies, in a campaign on telecom portal TMCnet. Epygi’s ad provides customers with immediate access to information on four different product lines, as well as company and distribution partner details, in a single MultiLink dropdown menu.

“The implementation is a very interesting use of the technology developed by CDI for Digital Object Identifiers,” Blossom said. “CDI had the sense to realize that a large part of their value proposition was not necessarily the permanence of the links that one could access via its technology, but rather the ability to keep a catalog of current information contextual to those links up to date in an effective and centralized manner.”

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) technology was created for Web navigation by Robert Kahn, one of the early developers of Internet technology. It is owned and run by Kahn’s non-profit research group, and licensed to organizations like CrossRef.org and companies like CDI in much the same way that domain name registration is licensed to registrars like Network Solutions or Register.com.

Though the underlying technology is complex, the management interface presented to the user is easy to use, said Hugh Brownstone, CEO of CDI.

Brownstone said the future plans for adapting CDI’s technology to advertising are wide open. The company is currently working both directly with advertisers and with its base of publishers to begin offering MultiLink ads on their sites. CDI is also approaching ad networks and other vendors in the space to see how they can best go forward.

“Advertising is not our business — it’s technology solutions,” Brownstone said. “This is the very earliest stage, but we know what we have is an extraordinary combination of functionality and market need.”

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