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Can an ad network save Technorati?

The company is reportedly about to launch Technorati Media, an ad network that targets smaller publishers. But after a rough year, people might not put much faith in it.

Blog aggregation start-up Technorati will be launching an ad network later on Tuesday called "Technorati Media," TechCrunch reported. This marks a new direction for the company, which has heretofore focused on blog search and directories.

As TechCrunch commenters note, this is not exactly revolutionary. Ad networks are everywhere. What makes Technorati Media different from a Glam Media or Federated Media is apparently the fact that it'll advertise on "the little guys" as well as high-traffic blogs, promising a better deal than Google's ubiquitous AdSense (it's similar to what Six Apart is doing).

There is also a top-notch lineup of advertisers already on board, which reportedly include Twentieth Century Fox Film, Acura, Adobe Systems, Best Buy, Chevrolet, Honda Motor, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Nike, Paramount Pictures, SanDisk, Scion, Sony, Sun Microsystems, Toyota Motor, T-Mobile, Universal Pictures, Verizon, and Visa.

But bloggers have reason to be skeptical, and not just because there are so many ad networks already: Technorati just hasn't been doing a first-rate job in the performance department recently. shows an overall traffic decline since last year, with the exception of a major spike in November that has since subsided. CEO David Sifry stepped down in August, in a move accompanied by several layoffs.

The blog search niche has, meanwhile, been crowded with Google Blog Search--and for zeitgeist measurement tools, there are plenty of Twitter applications that are far more up-to-the-moment.

Some TechCrunch commenters welcomed an alternative to AdSense that would bring in better revenues for smaller publishers. But others brought up Technorati's system outage issues--which admittedly aren't as prolific as, say, Twitter's--and raised concerns about joining a new ad network coming from a company that some have seen as mismanaged.

One directed a comment to Technorati's management and said, "Please fix RSS feeds on search queries first, before you do anything else. They stopped working weeks ago." Another posed the question, "If they've been unable to keep the system functioning and can't track my posts, what makes you think they'll be able to track and pay out ad revenue?"

The commenter continued, "I'll stick with AdSense: I get a nice check every month!"

Technorati clearly needed to change direction in the wake of Google Blog Search, but launching an ad network might just be too little, too late.