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Content Linking Trial at USAToday

Overture Links appear with content in beta trial

7:05 am on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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USAToday.com Tests Sponsored Links
A Twist on Paid Search Engine Results
By Carl Sullivan

Sponsored links are now appearing on some USAToday.com editorial pages, during a test run with Applied Semantics, a software company in Los Angeles.

The paid advertising links, sold by Overture Services of Pasadena, Calif., appear in "advertising" labeled boxes on the right-hand side of selected USAToday.com stories. ...


7:19 am on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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They are in an ad rotation with regular tile ads, and rarely appear. But, I was able to get a screen shot that I distilled into a graphic.

Walmart Article with Ad Sense [salientcontext.com]

AdSense's sidebar ("Advertiser Links") would be fine for a fashion section. But readers of the USA Today Money Section are not looking for specials at Marshalls and TJMaxx.

I think that Money Section readers are seeking financial information such as the companies mentioned and issues raised in the article.

It seems that this story in the finance section should have a Context Box similar to the following. It can include links to Overture, to the publisher's own news archives, and their ticker symbol pages.

Proposed Context Box [salientcontext.com]

5:19 pm on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the screenshot. I think I'd be a little upset if an article about my company automatically contained links to my competitors. This could get interesting.
5:24 pm on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I don't see what's so new about this, it simply Affiliate Marketing for the rich and famous.
6:55 pm on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It's not new at all, but it is more than affiliate marketing. It is automatic determination of context. I posted the following message about the history of this space over on the Google board.

Google and Overture are definitely not inventing anything new here.

In 1998 there are several references in the trade press about ideas such as "Transactive Content" and "Contextual Commerce".

C2B Technologies Riding the Next Online Shopping Wave?
By Dianne See
Issue Date: Jul 28 1998

"...transactive content, a term coined by Forrester Research (FORR). According to Greg Newman, cofounder and senior vice president of C2B Technologies, transactive content is the 'marriage of content with product and service recommendations.' ..."
A similar idea called "Contextual Commerce" is generally credited to Dr. Augustine Fou, go-Digital Internet Consulting Group, Inc. in this seminal article from Aug. 1998:


Indeed, many companies in this space have started and died in the last four and a half years:

Cross Commerce

The following companies had nationally advertised initiatives in Contextual Commerce, but gave up that business:

Commission Junction
Screaming Media

The company FizzyLab of Seattle is particularly notable for raising $9MM of Venture Capital and burning through it in 10 short months before going out of business.

This path is littered with the skeletons of failed efforts. In order for this to get any real traction with publishers and advertisers it has to be done very carefully.

I'm not convinced the recent entrants in this field, including Google, have the seasoned experience to carry it out properly: note the concerns in this thread of seasoned publishers and advertisers alike.

7:28 pm on Mar 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Anyone remember the company Third Voice? That's what this reminds me of.

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