Miva Adds Desktop Search Distributor

Intellext has signed a deal with Miva to distribute the firm’s targeted pay-per-click ads on its Watson contextual desktop search tool.

“For advertisers, it’s very much about reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time,” Chrysi Philalithes, VP of global marketing and communications for Miva, told ClickZ News. “As consumers become more sophisticated, it’s even more important for advertisers to reach them at multiple touchpoints along the purchase decision path.”

Intellext’s Watson is a downloadable application that examines content from a user’s open applications, such as a word processing document, email, or other file. It then searches the user’s hard drive and the Web to find contextually relevant information, without requiring the user to perform a search, and displays the results in a sidebar.

Users will now see contextually targeted ads from Miva’s network alongside the search results. Ads from Miva’s advertisers will show up in Watson’s sidebar when the application finds relevant keywords. There is currently no provision for advertisers to opt out of specific sites or distribution methods.

Miva struck a similar deal in October with desktop search player blinkx for its new Smart Ads platform. The platform is running live ads in the U.K., and blinkx expects to soon begin displaying geo-targeted, content-related paid-listings from Miva to U.S. users of the blinkx toolbar and the blinkx.tv video search engine. Ads will be targeted both using Miva’s own metadata stored with its ads, as well as data blinkx extracts from the ads with its search technology.

Though both Yahoo and Google, the biggest distributors of contextual advertising, both offer desktop search applications of their own, they have shied away from displaying ads alongside content from people’s hard drives, possibly wary of starting the kind of controversy that arose when Google first launched the Gmail hosted email application two years ago. The idea has grown in acceptance since then, and a plan to target ads against content found in an application is now being explored by Microsoft, which began testing ads in Windows Live last week.

According to Jay Budzik, founder and CTO for Intellext, users need not worry about any privacy concerns with Watson, since personal information never leaves the user’s machine. “Watson is smart, but it has no memory,” Budzik told ClickZ News. “It analyzes the document strictly on the user’s computer, and that information is never captured or stored anywhere.”

Over the past six months, Intellext has teamed up with MSN, to add Watson’s functionality into its desktop tool, and with eBay and Amazon, to crawl their content for related products to show Watson users. These partners help Intellext monetize the free version of its product, while attracting more enterprise users for its ad-free professional version.

Miva’s pay-per-click ads will be immediately available to Watson users, and pay-per-call ads are expected to follow in coming months.

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