Advertisers buying search ads in Ask.com's Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) program will soon have the option of buying contextually-targeted ads on IAC-owned sites and third-party publishers.
The program will launch at the end of May on several IAC-owned properties, such as Match.com, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch. Ads will also appear on a few trusted publisher sites, most likely starting with some of the 90 publishers that syndicate Ask.com search results and search ads. Mid-sized publishers are able to sign up for the program now, and a self-service platform for smaller publishers is expected later this year.
Ask.com is trying to differentiate its offering from AdSense by offering more control and transparency to both advertisers and publishers. For example, Ask.com will provide publishers with tools to tweak ads displayed on their sites to find a balance between ad relevance and page yield. On the advertiser side, that comes in the form of separate bids for contextual ads and site blocking capabilities.
"We're trying to solve the full equation for advertisers and publishers. Advertisers can expand their existing Ask Sponsored Listings campaigns with the same features, function, and control when they target the content network. For publishers, we've tried to differentiate it from what's out there," said Paul Vallez, head of Ask.com's search marketing product division. "We're going to offer a lot more levers to let publishers manage the monetization of their sites."
The ASL program launched in 2005, and was expanded last fall. It now includes more than 90 publisher partners showing ads from more than 30,000 advertisers. Ads are distributed in search results for sites like Lycos, Infospace, Mamma, Hakia and Eons.