What if consumers could personalize the ads and content they see when they open utility sites such as Google, or portal sites such as Yahoo? That’s the idea behind Optini, a new 12-person company based in Utah that has developed the concept of Optini Vu System “browser connectors.” These enable users to put Fandango listings in their Google page, or ESPN scores into CNN, etc.
The concept is not entirely new. Add-ons and extensions have been increasingly commonplace for tool bars and now Google’s SideWiki. But Optini President John Wright says that connectors enhance the concept, since they are available on an opt-in basis from the consumer end. They can also be integrated beyond Web browsers for use with iPhones, etc.
On a local basis, Wright envisions their use with Internet Yellow Pages and others. They can reach “an entire generation that never uses e-mail,” but relies instead on messaging and other insert media.
While popular sites such as Google or CNN may not like sharing their own pages (and advertising impressions), Wright says such sites really don’t have many legal options to fight it — in fact, Google’s Side Wiki has set its own precedent. It is really the consumer’s page, he says, noting that opt-in happens “after the dom,” rather than “before the dom,” and no cookies or beacons are involved, so it is not any of the site’s business.
Of course, one tends to pause about a technology that allows a consumer to enjoy one publisher’s expensively produced content and/or search results, while displacing any chance that the publisher can get revenues from advertising. But then again, who is to say that a company like Optini couldn’t actually work with publishers to enhance their own sites?