Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Exclusive: FAST Search and Transfer Plans Ad Exchange Linking Media Companies With a Combined Reach as Large as Yahoo!

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 23, 2007

FAST Search and Transfer, a leading European enterprise search company, said it will build an advertising exchange for its media company customers, who between them have an online audience that rivals Yahoo! in size.

The move will help to establish it as serious contender in the battle for large media advertising accounts. Yahoo and Google have recently signed big ad distribution deals with some of the largest newspaper, radio, and TV companies.

The difference with FAST's approach is that media companies use FAST software to run their own advertising networks within their own data centers. And they get to keep all the revenues instead of paying advertising networks such as Google and Yahoo as much as a 40 percent share.

LinkedUp

FAST's advertising exchange would link together media companies that use its advertising network software. The value of the ad exchange is in providing publishers with opportunities to sell excess inventory and gain the liquidity of a much larger network.

There would also be opportunities for advertising alliances and new types of ad services between publishers.

The FAST software can be configured to run many types of advertising models, such as pay per click, impressions, classified, and auction based models. It includes self-service features. Customers install and run the software within their own data centers rather than using third party networks.

From its founding in 1997 in Norway, FAST has been steadily building a strong name in enterprise search within global corporations, It has about 800 staff in the US, and about 200 in Norway, with offices around the world.

Autonomy in the UK, is the market leader in this sector but FAST has managed to win some large customers and also large media companies. IBM and the New York Times are among its search customers.

It's expansion into advertising software builds on its core search technologies, which are used to match advertising with content and users--the same as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft advertising services.

Don't expose the customer

But using Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network, not only reduces revenues, it exposes customer relationships that the ad network giants can target with additional services. Their publishing partners get none of this extra revenue.

"We think that newspapers and magazine publishers should keep more of their advertising revenues, and their customers, " John Lervik, CEO and co-founder of FAST, told SVW during a recent visit to San Francisco.

Joint Ventures

Mr Lervik said that FAST will also partner with some of its media customers in joint ventures around online advertising. One of these is a joint venture with Softbank in Japan.

The details of the FAST media enterprise software suite are under embargo. It builds on its FAST AdMomentum product.

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