Advertising technology company Dapper is releasing a new tool, MashupAds, for creating banner ads that combine context from the site they are running on with specific content from the site of the advertiser. For example, a travel site advertisement running on a travel review site (like PlanetEye) about Berlin could list either current airfares to the city or hotel deals.
Context-aware advertising is nothing new. It's what Google AdWords is all about. Dapper executives told me that what they do is different, though, especially in ad creation: The advertiser points the system to their site, and then at runtime, the Dapper ad gets the relevant information from the site and puts it into the ad. It's all dynamic.
These ads could be useful for products or services that have changing availability (like travel services) or prices (interest rates). Or for any company that sells a large number of products. Previously contextual ads running against a large catalog would be time-consuming to code. The Dapper pitch is that once you set up your ad-to-service mapping, you're done.
The service can also incorporate other data into the equation, like geographic region or any demographic data the site on which the ad is running can pass back to the Dapper engine.
MashupAds is not an advertising network, so advertisers still need to buy and place their ads the old-fashioned way. But now instead of submitting your own hand-coded ad files, generally in SWF format, you build the file with Dapper and send that instead.
A lightweight version of the service will be available for free. The full paid version will have more features and control.
Coming later, the service will track users' interaction with ads so it can fine-tune the items offered (if there are multiple possible selections). Also, if and when Dapper ads start running on social networks, the company will start working on ways to get data from the social graph into the recommendation engine.
Advertising is a tough business to be in right now; as spending slows, ad revenues will as well. But Dapper makes advertising more effective, and for either a zero or low cost. It's a smart pitch for the times.
Here's Dapper's own MashupAds pitch video:
How Dapper MashupAds Can Save Display Advertising from Paul Knegten on Vimeo.