Lijit Launches Publisher Ad Network

Lijit, a two-year-old startup based in Boulder, Colo., today launched the beta version of its publisher advertising network, which will allow the company to sell contextual advertising against search conducted on blogs that use Lijit’s white-label search solution.

In the future the company says it will allow publishers – mostly bloggers – to sell their own keyword-based contextual ads against their search results using Lijit ad-serving technology. Todd Vernon, CEO of the company, talked about this new network last month when he stopped by our offices.

The launch of the network comes at an awkward time – as the global economy is being tossed around like cans on a string attached to a car driving down a country lane. We talked about some of those issues when I had dinner last night in Boulder with Todd and his COO, Walter Knapp.

Like almost anyone whose business is dependent on the constant flow of dollars to online advertising, Vernon and Knapp are nervous. But they feel that they have a better mousetrap, one that will make them more valuable to discerning advertisers.

Vernon repeated the argument that because they have better knowledge of a weblog’s content (and its relevance) they serve up more effective advertising. It is one of the reasons why they go on to claim that they get a “search results to ad click-through rates ratio” of 3.7 percent; in some cases that number is as high as 7.8 percent. This is higher than typical contextual advertising rates. And while those are compelling numbers, I am hard-pressed to feel too optimistic about the immediate future of online advertising networks, though clearly the long-term trends favor folks like Lijit.