EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 854 - September 23, 2004     2 of 4

AOL Runs Classifieds Pilot Program in AOL Search

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AOL announced a new shopping service on Monday called inStore (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-73), but it appears to be in stealth mode with another ecommerce-related service it is currently testing. The pilot appears to be a customized program in which contextual listings from its Classifieds section appear at the top of the search results page, just above Google AdSense listings.

Typically, a search on AOL Search (http://search.aol.com) will come back with a list of "sponsored links from Google AdSense advertisers (https://adwords.google.com) followed by "matching sites" provided by Google search. Sometimes AOL includes inStore listings, paid listings or recommended sites at the top of the search results page (see http://aolsearch.aol.com/aol/about.jsp or do a search for "coca-cola").

With the new pilot program, certain search terms will cause the results page to display three ads from its Classifieds section (http://classifieds.aol.com) placed horizontally above Sponsored Links, each including a thumbnail image of the item. Clicking on an ad brings buyers to an AOL branded shopping cart where buyers can purchase the item.

AOL appears to be limiting which AOL Classifieds sellers can participate in the pilot program, including merchants from online antiques-mall TIAS.com (http://www.tias.com).

An example of a search results page displaying the new ads can be seen at http://digbig.com/4bstr


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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