The program lets advertisers present full-screen messages to users of Firefly's Passport technology. It has sponsorship from Columbia House, The Gap, IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Pioneer.
Firefly's Passport program is a registration-based service that lets users surf the Web for sites that use Firefly personalization technology. There are currently 2 million Passport users; sites using the technology include My Yahoo! and Barnes & Noble.
`NOT A BANNER KILLER'
Under the ad sponsorship program, when the Passport launches, it appears as a small navigation window on the side of the screen. A separate, larger window contains a banner ad that, when clicked on, launches the advertiser's page on the same screen.
The ads are currently running only on Firefly's music and movies Web site (www.firefly.com), not on other sites that use Passport technology.
"This is not a banner killer," said Doug Weaver, VP-sales at Firefly. "We'll still offer banners on our site," where users can post personal home pages for their fellow Firefly friends to visit.
The session sponsorship, priced at 25 cents per view of the advertiser's page, guarantees 20,000 page views per day.
"We don't claim this is the same as a click-through," Mr. Weaver said. However, he added, "we can put Firefly users directly on the advertiser's home page," meaning the program offers the same result as guaranteeing click-through.
MORE PROMINENT ADS
Other sites have experimented with interfaces that make advertising more prominent. Interactive Imaginations, producer of game site Riddler (www.riddler.com) and the Commonwealth Network advertising network, recently introduced full-screen ads across its service.
Priced at either 15 cents or 75 cents per click, Interactive Imaginations' full-page concept has caught on among more than a dozen advertisers, including new sponsors Atlantic Records, MasterCard International, Motorola, October Films, Sega of America, IDG Corp.'s The Web and Ziff-Davis.