Quick Peeks at Search Results and Speeding Through MySpace Profiles

Media Morph: Browster

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Browster.
Browster lets users browse Myspace profiles -- without having to click on every link to do so.
Browster lets users browse Myspace profiles -- without having to click on every link to do so.

What it is: Browster is a free plug-in that helps users fly through search results, eliminating the need to click and open every link to view the pages behind the results. Instead, it adds a Browster icon next to each result and "pre-fetches" pages, which pop up in a preview window when your mouse scrolls over the icon. AskJeeves.com has a similar feature on some of its search results.

Why it's cool: Browster is built on the idea that current web-browser technology is not so current -- a search turns up loads of links and often users have to click on several of them before finding what they want. Co-founder and CEO Scott Milener said Browster is meant to help net surfers deal with the "inundation of information we see on the web."

What's in Browster 2.0: One word: MySpace. The newest version of Browster, launching today, lets users browse MySpace profiles without having to click on every cumbersome link to view a profile. Instead, scrolling over a Browster icon causes a preview window of the profile to pop up. The function is meant to speed up browsing and, in turn, is likely to increase the number of page views on MySpace. And, notes Mr. Milener, in a Browster preview, window ads within a MySpace profile aren't obscured by user-generated content.

How it's catching on: According to Mr. Milener, there have been about 600,000 installations of the 1.6 version, which launched in March. All of that has been driven by word of mouth.

The advertising implications: At first blush, Browster would appear to reduce a publisher's impressions because users aren't clicking through the links. But Mr. Milener said every page previewed through Browster counts as a page visit for the publisher. Browster makes its own money through search ads and, soon, tag clouds, pay-per-click advertising.
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