A new kind of online advertising is being trialled by websites that feature message boards. One of the websites is share specialist Motley Fool UK (www.fool.co.uk). It is running a trial of a technology called IntelliTXT from a company called VibrantMedia.
The technology works as follows: the website owner decides on a list of frequently used and relevant words. For an investment website these might include “mortgage”, “credit card” or “bank”.
Each time one of the website users posts a comment on the bulletin board, the entry is automatically scanned for key words. If any appear, they will be highlighted in green and accompanied by a hypertext link. This means that when someone reading the bulletin board moves their cursor over the key word, a small message will appear from an advertiser. If they then click on the message, they will be taken to a website belonging to the advertiser.
Although not aimed exclusively at bulletin boards, the technology has the potential to open up a hugely important but barely tapped area of online activity. Bulletin boards have been one of the most popular aspects of the Internet, allowing consumers to create virtual communities.
But previous attempts to impose any kind of advertising message onto these bulletin boards have been strictly limited. In order for an online community to retain its interest and credibility, users must feel that they are the ones in control.
Motley Fool UK has been trialling IntelliTXT since August. George Row, community producer at Motley Fool, says: “The feedback from our users has been varied and not all positive. It is certainly an interesting idea. It is often observed that on discussion board pages of any website the user’s attention tends to be on the content rather than the advertising. Hence click-rates on traditional banner-type advertising tend to be lower. So this sort of advertising may be an effective alternative.”
Despite that, Row says some users have expressed the view that the green links are less annoying than a pop-up.
Motley Fool has been varying some of the ad parameters, such as the number of links per page, and filtering the advertising subjects to rule out those that do not go down well with its target audience. Row says: “We have not yet made a final assessment but are scheduled to do so soon.”
Craig Gooding, managing director of Vibrant Media, comments: “We launched IntelliTXT earlier this year and have received a very positive reaction from Web publishers. One of the great benefits of IntelliTXT is that it enables websites to tap into the rapidly growing keyword marketing sector. What’s of particular interest to our publishing partners is that IntelliTXT can be applied across many types of content – news, features, product reviews – and user-generated content can all carry IntelliTXT links.”