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Tripod to offer ad service

The online community will develop a banner exchange program for its members using technology from SmartAge.

Large and midsized businesses that want to advertise on the Net generally go to companies that put together entire Internet strategies for them.

But individuals and small businesses are often left to prepare those programs themselves--or to enlist the services of a growing number of companies aiming to serve their needs.

One such company, SmartAge, today announced an alliance with Lycos and its Web community Tripod, where Tripod will develop a banner exchange program for its members using SmartAge's technology.

At a time when everyone on the Net is fighting to get pages noticed, individuals increasingly are turning to banner exchange programs in which sites swap banner ads among themselves.

While large companies can afford to pay big bucks to get their banners placed on the most popular--and presumably most relevant--Web pages, smaller sites often turn to each other to get the same kind of boost.

The SmartAge banner exchange program, dubbed SmartClicks, will allow Tripod to brand its own program and advertise it to its members. The idea is to generate as much traffic as possible for individuals and in turn for Tripod, which makes money by advertising on its members free Web pages.

The alliance will allow the online community to "provide our members with a top-notch mechanism by which they can advertise their pages," said Scott Walker, Tripod's vice president of marketing.

"That benefits our members and benefits Tripod," he added.

The banner exchange program is one element of SmartAge's multipronged strategy to serve small businesses on the Web, said Anna Zornosa, president of SmartAge.

"We want to provide an integrated set of Web services to small companies," she added. "Our goal is to be a one-stop shop--sort of the Kinko's of the Internet."

Of the 12 services that SmartAge plans to offer by the end of the year (it now offers 4), banner exchange is the most important, she said.

"You can really look to banner exchange to becoming a very important service," Zornosa said. "People are realizing that banner exchanges are becoming a key application for Web sites...It's going to be seen very quickly as one of the key and most popular applications on the Web."