Bad news for banner ads = good news for 'featuretisements'?

BlueTie tying up with, and BlackBerry maker RIM.

On the surface, Web advertising seems healthy. Revenue in the US last year was up 27 per cent to US$25.5 billion, according to IDC.

The lion's share -- 62 per cent, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau -- still comes from two standby structures: text links targeted through contextual programs such as Google's AdSense, and plain old banner ads.

But some experts predict that rates for banners and text links, called CPMs, are due for a fall. They blame a slowing economy and a glut of page views as more Web publishers turn away from subscriptions and toward ad-supported models.

Others say banner ads are less effective than previously thought. A study released last week found that about half of all clicks on display ads were by a tiny, non-representative, and economically unattractive group of Web users.

These "natural-born clickers," according to the study by ad agency Starcom USA, Web analytics firm Tacoda, and digital audience measurement firm comScore, comprise a 6 per cent slice of the population that is between 25 and 44 years old and in households with income of less than US$40,000 a year.

Enter the 'featuretisement'

None of this bad news around Web advertising would surprise BlueTie CEO David Koretz, who says CPM rates are already "horrible."

Instead, the 28-year-old CEO has been banging the drum for the past year for a new Web marketing technique developed by BlueTie. The company's calling it a 'featuretisement.'

For advertisers or retailers, featuretisements blend the targeting of AdSense with the one-click sale of an auction or store listing, Koretz said. For users working inside a Web application such as BlueTie's hosted e-mail and collaboration software (think a SaaS version of Microsoft's Outlook), they minimize disruption.

"With Web applications, it's all about workflow, and whether you're enhancing or disrupting it," he said.

Working with clients such as travel booker and business search engine, BlueTie was able to generate about US70 cents last year from each of its 4 million users, scattered among 230,000 mostly small- and medium-sized firms.

The effort was successful enough that BlueTie has already inked similar deals with and as well as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, according to Koretz. did not return a request for comment. But both RIM and separately confirmed that they are working with BlueTie.

How it works

BlueTie is also offering a private beta of the feature that it hopes to eventually syndicate to other Web app providers, the same way Facebook released its controversial Beacon Web advertising program.

To activate a featuretisement, a BlueTie user logs into his Web-based calendar and types in an appointment. For instance, a user might go into March 18 and add "hotels in Chicago until March 20, 2008." Immediately, an Orbitz search form pops up, already filled out with the right city and dates.

Or while checking his calendar on his spouse's birthday, a user might see a pop-up screen from or showing a selection of appropriate gifts that the user can buy and send with a just a few clicks.

Advertisers such as Orbitz or Amazon only pay BlueTie if the user actually clicks on the pop-up to execute that search for a flight or gift.

That sort of Cost-Per-Action (CPA) model should minimize the risk for advertisers new to BlueTie, said Joe Laszlo, director of research for the IAB.

"That gives people a lot of comfort when they are trying out a new ad model," he said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Show Comments

Cool Tech

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?