Conduit's custom toolbar sees strong uptake

Conduit, an Israeli company with offices in Redwood Shores, offers a customizable toolbar that any Web site owner can provide to their visitors.

It is a very useful feature. This lets Web site owners retain loyalty of its visitors. If your visitors download the toolbar, it appears across the entire length of top of their browser; you the Web owner can ensure your site remains a prominent fixture on the toolbar’s features.

Here’s a VentureBeat toolbar you can download, for example. We’ve pasted a visual below.

You’ll see the red “news” icon in the middle gives you a way to get a glimpse “Wire” stories, which we put in the toolbar assuming most people aren’t RSS’ing to it yet. On the left, you can type a word in the search bar, and then pull down the menu where it says “search” on the right, to search the Web, or within VentureBeat, or eBay or other sites. This is just two of a multitude of features Conduit offers. (This was done quickly, and we may issue a better VentureBeat toolbar shortly).

venturebeattoolbar.bmp

The toolbar has been popular enough in trial mode over the past 18 months that its customer base has grown to 125,000 publishers in 12 countries, the company said. More than 1.8 million users have downloaded the toolbar in just the last quarter. The company says it should have 10 million users by the second quarter of next year without doing anything. At this rate, this company may have a chance of moving beyond being a mere feature, and have a business on its hands. Let’s see who else goes after the market.

Conduit is free and hosted so you can produce one on the fly, and its features are extensive. We tried it out, and it is straight-forward to create your own. Visicom Media offers a competing product, but its main product is a software download that you have to pay for, and it’s not hosted online. However, it has recently started offering a basic free version.

Conduit gets paid by claiming a cut in the advertising that runs beside search results in toolbar’s search box — which is powered by Ask. Conduit is already getting more than 10 million monthly searches through that search bar, VP of Marketing Reena Jadhav said.

Major League Baseball, Fox Carolina TV, Greenpeace, REMAX and Blogdigger are all customers using the toolbar.

Conduit says 82 percent of USA Cycling Pro Championship race fans chose to download its toolbar.

Conduit provides customers using the toolbar reports on their users, including the number of new users, active users, and ways to get more information from their by creating a login page (though does not track information on individual users; it is aggregated data).

Conduit has $2 million in funding from Yozma, an Israeli venture firm.