Pixsy Helps Publishers Get the Picture

Article ImageThumbnails could become a new source of livelihood for web publishers who opt to work with PixsyPower—a new monetized image and video search program launched by the Pixsy Corp. in December. Having powered visual search for companies such as PureVideo and Info.com, Pixsy decided to expand its service and provide its platform to anyone with a web page. The company hopes the new service will take its particular brand of search mainstream, while also generating fresh traffic and ad revenue for publishers of all types.

Pixsy Corp. CEO Chase Norlin dubs the program an attempt to "bring visual search to the masses." To attract as many web publishers as possible, PixsyPower takes cues from a tool many of them already use: Google's AdSense advertising program. Like AdSense, PixsyPower has a streamlined publisher interface that spits out HTML code snippets; publishers can then paste the code wherever they like in their site's layout and immediately begin offering rich media search of the Pixsy index. 

To create these code snippets, publishers first configure their Pixsy search parameters. They can offer their end users general image or video search, image or video search that returns results from a single provider (like The New York Times site, for example), or image or video search that returns results from a specific category of the Pixsy media index. For this last type of search, publishers can choose from categories like free stock photos, cartoons and comics, and celebrities and entertainment. 

According to Norlin, Pixsy plans to add more categories as its image and video thumbnail index continues to grow to accommodate the many niche sites out there: "If you have a golf website, we'll power a golf search engine for you," he says.

Once publishers have configured their search parameters, they have two ways to present the search interface to end users: Publishers who want to go low-key can use a standard search box interface, while publishers looking for something flashier can fire up a search box combined with relevant, search-result thumbnail images that Pixsy calls "PhotoSense." 

PhotoSense thumbnails are meant to attract the eye and invite PixsyPower search activity. While this adds value for publishers, one potential downside is that any user who clicks on a PhotoSense thumbnail is taken away to the page that hosts the thumbnail's full-size image. For publishers who want to keep end users on their sites, this could be problematic. Norlin says that sending users to image and video providers is just as important to Pixsy as monetizing PixsyPower publisher sites. "We're a big syndicator of thumbnail traffic," Norlin says of the arrangement. 

PhotoSense can be further refined by choosing one of two layouts: a search box with thumbnails version that sends users to a search-result landing page and a widget version. When an end user searches for a term using the PhotoSense widget, PixsyPower displays a few results inside the widget without loading a new page. It also includes a link inviting users to browse more results on a search-result landing page. 

Once publishers have defined their search and placed their code, PixsyPower's back-end interface allows them to configure the color scheme and basic look of their search-result landing pages in order to best blend them with their site's design. These Pixsy-hosted search-result pages are monetized through a combination of pay-per-click text, image, and video ads relevant to user search queries. Pixsy shares advertising revenue derived from user ad clicks with publishers. 

"Our job is to generate the most page yield, generating the most amount of ad revenue without getting crazy," Norlin says, referring to sites with dozens of animated banners and text-link units. 

Analytics tools in the interface allow publishers to track both their PixsyPower earnings and user search activity to better optimize site offerings. "Bloggers can see what people are searching for. They'll now have this new intelligence to make their websites even more targeted," Norlin says. 

Throughout the first month of the program, which launched Dec. 18, PixsyPower is accepting every publisher who applies. Over time, Norlin says the company will begin monitoring and policing publishers for click fraud and adult or offensive content to ensure that Pixsy's largely family-friendly content providers remain pleased with the pages displaying their thumbnails. "We'll just turn a publisher off if we get a complaint," says Norlin. 

Pixsy is currently working on a separate service for adult image and video search. "We know we have to address adult, we're not competitive without it," Norlin says. The main Pixsy index is currently patrolled to keep it free of adult content and also has an adult filter users can apply to searches. Norlin said Pixsy's image index is "twice as family-friendly as Google or Yahoo." Nonetheless, Pixsy's developers are also interested in powering search of their current index for what Norlin calls "PG-13, R-rated" sites too. 

Despite PixsyPower's potential as a new revenue stream outside of existing affiliate, pay-per-click and pay-per-action programs, Norlin de-emphasizes this as the new program's chief aim. While he hopes publishers realize PixsyPower's income opportunities, he is most excited about the service's potential to offer end users a new browsing experience and to drive traffic to sites hosting images and video. 

"Making money is gravy," Norlin says, "but generating new search activity is our goal."