Product Search Comes to Banner Ads

NEW YORK A new ad network is bringing product-search listings to banner ads, in an attempt to offer publishers an alternative to Google AdSense and similar banner ad services.

Marlborough, Mass.-based Chitika has introduced eMiniMalls, a new ad unit that shows product-search listings based on the content of the Web page. For example, a visitor to a page about online music could see a banner with listings for iPods, along with prices from different merchants, product descriptions and reviews. Users can change the product shown by using a search box included in the banner., recently purchased by eBay, is supplying the product information.

Chitika CEO Venkat Kolluri said he is in talks with other comparison search engines and other online shopping sites. Initial publishing partners include, an affiliate program that gives consumers rebates for shopping with participating merchants, and some smaller Web publishers. Kolluri said the product should appeal to small and medium-sized Web publishers as an alternative to running AdSense-style text listings, low-priced banner ads or manually selecting product listings through affiliate programs.

“It’s not advertising in the traditional sense,” Kolluri said. “Were not advertising the merchant but the product the advertiser is offering.”

In tests, Chitika claims its product listings got a 1 percent click-through rate, more than double the less than 1 percent industry average for online ads reported by DoubleClick.

Chitika allows publishers to insert code for which product listing to show, or let its system determine the best product. Kolluri said Chitika would allow advertisers to keep between 60 percent and 80 percent of the revenue generated each time visitor clicks on a product listing.