MapQuest Test Drives In-Map Ad Offering

With gas prices skyrocketing, many drivers are eager to find the lowest prices available in their local area. MapQuest is giving them what they want: directions to the cheapest gas in their vicinity. And along the way, it’s serving up geo-targeted ads courtesy of Idelix’s Lat49 map-based ad network.

MapQuest is one of 50 publishers to adopt the Lat49 API to install ads into maps, and is testing the system with its MapQuest Gas Prices portal before deciding on a further rollout.

“We plan to evaluate the success of the program to determine if and how to expand� our use of advertising on the map within other areas of MapQuest.com,” Allie Burns, a spokesperson at AOL for MapQuest, told ClickZ in an e-mail. “We believe there is significant potential for advertisers to leverage on-the-map advertising as another avenue to engage [visitors]. Working with Lat49, our aim is to provide that opportunity for advertisers without sacrificing the consumer’s experience.”

Ads appearing over the MapQuest Gas Prices site are geo-targeted, generally relate to travel services and should appeal to local advertisers, according to Tiffany Chester, director of marketing and business development for Idelix Software.

The Gas Prices portal carries information on over 100,000 stations around the country, updated several times a day by the Oil Pricing Information Service.

Lat49 launched last June to allow ads to be placed directly over specific areas of a publisher’s map. As online maps have evolved through the use of AJAX and Flash developer environments, fewer pages are refreshed and users are able to scroll from location to location with a drag of the mouse, which typically results in fewer banner ads being served to viewers. With Lat49, text ads are shown on specific areas of a map regardless of how users get there.

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