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We've heard the recurring notion that the traditional ad model is dying, despite the cutthroat battle raging between Google and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , especially in context-sensitive ad-serving. Well, we've seen some wacky ideas about how to monetize Web pages, and now Yahoo! has a new notion for how page views could be monetized: through futures contracts.
The value of a Web page to advertisers can shift dramatically, depending on a site's perception and performance. Especially for smaller sites that depend on services such as Adsense, there can be dramatic variations depending on their traffic as well as the origin and browsing history of their readers. There's a certain gamble already present in the ad game, and if Yahoo! has its way, then selling and placing ads could get another middleman and a touch of the investment world.
According to a patent filing, Yahoo! wants to trade an estimated base price of an ad at a specific future date on a stock-like ad exchange. From the patent filing:
Techniques are described herein for monetizing page views on an exchange using futures contracts. For example, an estimated price (a.k.a. base price) and a future date (a.k.a. base date or occurrence date) may be declared with respect to a page view. The estimated price is the price at which the page view is to be offered for sale. The future date is the date on which the page view is scheduled to occur. A futures contract regarding the page view is offered for sale on an exchange, such as an ad exchange. The futures contract specifies an obligation to purchase the page view with respect to the future date for the estimated price. The futures contract may be offered for sale on a date that precedes the date on which the page view is to be offered for sale.
The patent lays out details of how the value of a page view could be determined. In the background, however, it appears that Yahoo! is looking for ways to monetize Web traffic beyond the simple page view. Just as stocks are traded and traditional futures contracts are placed, the Yahoo! example is essentially trading the option to place ads. That may or may not work, and it could add a speculative component to the advertising market that gives even publishers -- who initially would sell those futures contracts as the right to place advertising on their site at a specific date -- an additional revenue opportunity. At least for those who like to gamble.
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