IQ News: Cool tool – Sticking Around

Sticky Networks lets advertisers buy keywords beyond portals and search sites.
For an advertiser these days, purchasing keywords on Web portals and search engine sites can be akin to obtaining ringside seats at a Lennox Lewis fight: they’re expensive and hard to get. But one New York-based company says it has a product that promises to bring keyword-based advertising to the rest of the Web.
Sticky Networks (stickynetworks.com) is hoping that its application, the Sticky, which launched July 17, will become the avenue du jour for advertisers, content sites and e-commerce sites looking for ways to boost the octane of their real estate, their ads or their product presentations.
Since Stickies can carry multiple hypertext links within a single image, the company is also betting that the Sticky’s ability to carry ads around the Web in one vehicle–like a charter bus full of paying customers–will make it a viral marketing juggernaut, supplying multiple ad-revenue streams from each piece of real estate.
Stickies are Java-based, graphical interfaces requiring no user plug-in and consisting of “hot” images–such as photographs or diagrams–with embedded menus that appear instantly when a user hovers his or her cursor over an element of the image. The menus allow users to drill down to hyper-linked topics linking to other sites. These links, say company reps, allow advertisers to buy keyword placement extraneous to traditional keyword platforms, such as search engines and portals.
Company CEO Robin Johnson claims Stickies offer a smoother surfing experience for users. “Until now, surfing the Web involved a one-dimensional hop, where you don’t know your destination before you go. If you and I were into fly-fishing and went to Yahoo!, we’d get a fairly superficial response. The process [of searching] is about head scratching.”
He says the company’s patent-pending technology for embedding keyword menus within images makes searches more intuitive and less of a blind jaunt into the unknown.
Johnson claims clickthroughs to advertisers’ sites are six to seven times greater than typical banner ads, or roughly equal to keyword-based advertising on portals.
Sticky Networks will either sell custom-made Stickies on a per-unit basis or offer them for free via a revenue-sharing model. In that case, a publisher can choose from a gallery of pre-made Stickies, launch it and split the ad revenue with Sticky Networks on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM), cost per click (CPC), and in the future, a cost per order (CPO) basis.
The company also offers a technical license deal that allows customers to assemble their own Stickies. Johnson says that for publishers or marketers building their own Stickies, the Java-based technology featuring a drag-and-drop interface for building images is equivalent to using Powerpoint to make presentations. “If someone were an expert, say, in designing kitchens, they could build one in an hour or so,” says John Dalton, customer marketing manager at Sticky Networks.
Sticky Networks has inked deals with Motorious.com, an auto industry portal that is in pre-launch; Town24.com, a shopping portal; ShoppingThere.com, a virtual shopping center; and I-Bizwomen, a site dedicated to finance and business content for women. The first Sticky is free, with additional ones priced at $5,000 per month per Sticky, according to Johnson.
Motorious sells auto parts and after-market services online, as well as point-of-purchase interactivity at the dealership when a consumer is making a car purchase. On Town24.com, a visitor can make purchases by travelling through various virtual shopping environments, featuring Sticky images.
“Town24.com is a visual entertainment/shopping site and directory so it was a natural fit to begin a relationship with Sticky Network’s visual search,” says Stacy Holmes, director of partnership development for Town24. “The relationship between the two companies will enhance Town24.com’s user experience and expand our existing real estate.”
Dalton claims that since Stickies have the potential to earn more than they cost to post, the real end-game is syndication.
“Publishers can reap the benefits of having a revenue-generating machine, since the Sticky is packed with advertising,” Dalton says. “Rather than simply buying a banner, you are moving your site’s DNA across the Web and pointing users back to relevant spots within your site and/or someone else’s.” n