NetSanity Gives Content-Driven Advertising a Push

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NetSanity is taking a sane approach to the downloadable toolbar craze by delivering valuable content to the user's desktop, instead of flashy banner ads.


Its product, the Virtual Digital Assistant to launch during the week of Jan. 20, will offer up-to-the-minute headlines from advertiser's sites in the hope that users will click-through.


The VDA takes roughly 60 seconds to download. It sits above the toolbar that runs along the bottom of the screen. The user can select what kind of content they wish to receive, such as sports scores, stock quotes, auction updates or news headlines. It also provides one-click access to maps, yellow pages and a Web search powered by GoTo.com. Many of these features will be customizable.


"We really see ourselves as an information management platform versus an advertising platform," said Rob Blechman, president of NetSanity, Redwood City, CA. "The VDA provides longer term value in allowing people to better manage their information."


This model may just work, according to H. Peet Rapp, senior research analyst ActivMedia Research, Peterborough, NH. "If it's flexible enough to handle the peculiar and specific interests people have, it should be a winner," said Rapp. "If it reduces the amount of unproductive surfing and is viewed as a time saver, it will spread by word-of-mouth."


On Dec. 14, NetSanity announced partnerships with GO2Net, Individual Investor, Red Herring, The Sporting News and SpringStreet.com. These additions bring the company's tally of partners to 30. NetSanity anticipates it will have as many as 70 onboard by the end of the first quarter.


Under their agreements, partner sites will promote the application by featuring offers that encourage the user to download it throughout their sites. NetSanity expects its VDA to receive 170 million impressions per month based on page views at partner sites.


The downloaded toolbar features the partner's logo as well as a direct link their site. Partners pay a negotiated fee per-clickthrough.


The VDA is a form of "push" technology. After the bad reception push technology received a few years back, one would think NetSanity was crazy to unearth this technology as an ad vehicle. However, this application has gotten all the kinks out, according to Blechman. "The push technologies of the past were heavy multi-megabit applications," he said. " The VDA uses 1K pebbles of information delivered directly from a user-defined content provider."


NetSanity also announced on Dec. 14 that Nokia Ventures joined RG Internet Investors, L.P. and Angel Investors, L.P. as equity investors in the company.

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