Glam Media, a company targeting content and ads mainly at women, is letting advertisers launch full-fledged widgets and applications on the Glam site.
Just like Facebook lets developers create applications that run freely on its site, Glam is doing the same for advertisers. The main difference is that these advertisers get to have their display ads run front-and-center throughout their applications or widgets. The apps they create are designed to be integrated into the blogs and other publishing sites in Glam’s network.
The product ensures that advertisers can “own” their space, something that they have a difficult time doing on Facebook, for example. On Facebook and other social networks, one advertiser may promote a film in one area of an application or widget while a different advertiser promotes a competing film in another area. There’s no way to track such conflicts. Glam offers analytics to monitor how advertisements perform, and ways to avoid these clashes.
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Take a look at the Sex and the City example in the screenshot below.
The move continues Glam’s steady release of innovative ways for advertisers to interact with viewers — even at a time when the economic slowdown will likely stunt online ad growth, and in turn wallop Glam’s business model.
There’s no doubt Glam has carved out significant reach — it recently emerged as a top-ten web property, according to ComScore Media Metrix. However, that reach includes Glam ads on sites that aren’t necessarily owned by the company. So while Glam is warming up to big ad agencies by providing them the sort of products they love, the big question is whether those agencies will fully embrace the publishing inventory Glam offers them.
The trick for Glam is to make sure it owns enough good content. But that’s expensive. Now that Glam will be forced to horde much of its vast amount of funding in order to survive the downturn, its ability to acquire good content will be slowed. It has struck partnerships with publishers, but even those could come under pressure.
While Glam continues to copy Facebook with things like its application platform, it also wants to distance itself from the social networking giant — insisting that Facebook has been relegated to a “social media” site where most ads come from “remnant” ad networks that serve very cheap ads. Glam’s network requires IAB standard ad units.
Glam’s latest product, called the “Glam Applications Network,” launches with the support of 50 companies producing widgets and applications for the platform — including Sphere, BuzzFeed, Meebo, PollDaddy, PicApp, JS-Kit and Kwanzoo. Many of these companies build widgets for things like polls, slideshows, video commenting and contests, and they will allow advertisers to offer display ads inside the widgets.
Glam also offers a standardized payment system for developers, publishers and media companies.
The apps and widgets will be available in the Glam Apps Store.
The product is available for Glam’s 700-plus websites in the Glam.com and Brash.com (Glam’s new offering for men) networks — and will be opened to everyone in early 2009.
Glam also offers rights management. So for example, if VentureBeat wanted to offer a widget of its full news stories to the New York Times, we could do so using one widget. VentureBeat could then use a second widget to offer its news content in a different way (perhaps just the first two paragraphs) to three or four other top publishers. And using a third widget, we could offer just our headlines to any other site.
The Glam platform is built on standards OpenSocial and OpenID, which are likely to make it easier for advertisers to interact with users across widgets on Glam (through a common OpenID login and registration for users) and also across the web (because applications will be compatible with other social networks via OpenSocial).