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Let's talk toolbars: Conduit and Critical Mention

Two companies from AlwaysOn.

And here we have two more companies that were featured Tuesday at AlwaysOn's media event:

Like many of the companies presenting at this conference, Critical Mention has released a variety of products, some geared toward corporate clients and others toward individual media junkies. Critical Mention's raison d'etre in both cases is to connect Internet users to what's happening on TV. It's developed a set of tools that help companies, agencies, and political campaigns find out when they get television mentions, but Critical Mention also has a downlodable toolbar that can perform similar functions for ordinary Web users. So, if you're really desperate to see when Justin Timberlake makes a televised appearance--here you go.

While Critical Mention uses toolbars as one tactic in its overall strategy, Conduit is completely centered on toolbars. With Conduit, you or your organization can make a custom toolbar that integrates, well, whatever you think a toolbar should have. That includes Google search, local weather, drop-down bookmarks, radio, and even messaging and chat functions. (And, yes, you can make your own personal Conduit toolbar if you so choose.) Conduit gained a good bit of buzz when TechCrunch used Conduit to make a promotional "CrunchBar" for its TechCrunch 8 party in New York a few months ago.

All Conduit toolbars are free, but the company ropes in some of the revenue from the Google ads that are displayed when someone searches using the toolbar. It seems like a rather indirect mode of monetization, but hey, there's been a lot of positive talk about Conduit's business model recently, which means they must be doing something right.