Startup search engine Blekko has recently begun to test search ads on its site, according to MediaPost. It works with several large brands through feeds from Google and Bing but doesn't have direct relationships with any confirmed brands as of right now.
Both Google and Bing have an inventory for startups like Blekko for them to be able to use their advertisers through their search feed. It looks like right now this is just a small test, which means the majority of searches on Blekko won't show ads and it's highly unlikely you'll see any PPC ads yet.
Here’s an example of how Blekko’s sponsored results appear, as spotted by Rimm-Kaufman Group:
A few of the searches are linked to slashtags that help curate content, according to Rich Skrenta, Blekko founder and CEO.
"We're still ironing out the kinks," Skrenta said.
The company will measure success based on RPMs – page revenue per 1,000 ad units.
Skrenta estimates search traffic is worth between $50 and $100 CPMs. He believes that when someone types keywords into a search box, the intent increases.
"If I type Palo Alto Audi into a search box, it becomes a $20 click to a car dealer," he said. "If you look at RPMs on Google, AOL search, or Ask.com they tend to be high, and that's the market opportunity we're pursuing."
Prior to Blekko, Skrenta monetized page views at about $3 to $4 CPMs on Topix, a news aggregator which he sold to the Tribune. Blekko is backed by Russian search engine Yandex, as well as venture capitalists PivotNorth Capital, SV Angel and Marc Andreessen.
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