Norwegian enterprise search provider FAST is launching a paid-search platform that publishers (newspapers) can use to auction and serve their own ads and maintain all the ad revenue. The message to the market is: no need to work with Google or Yahoo! and share revenues.
FAST was joint developer, with Sensis, of a paid-search platform (Platefood), which the company subsequently fully acquired for a little more than $10 million in Q4 last year. That capability is part of this offering.
While Europe may be something of a “green field,” the US (newspaper) market is almost totally closed to this product unless it’s compatible with existing channel/monetization deals. FAST does have relationships with the Washington Post and a few other publishers but I see little chance for broad adoption among US newspapers. Google supplies ads and revenue (AdSense); FAST does not. But even more importantly, Yahoo! has sewn up exclusive relationships with hundreds (260 and counting) of newspapers now. Quigo, which this product competes with, also has numerous newspaper relationships.
Another issue is cost. Although good, FAST’s products/solutions are often expensive. That’s not going to be attractive to most US newspaper publishers. There may be other, non-newspaper publishers, who’ve got sufficient traffic and a sales force to make this product work. But in the US, FASTMedia is likely to find very few homes.