Dapper, the Israeli founded super-tool that "creates an API for any website" is looking to make the transition from useful service to viable business with the release of DapperAds, the company's new ad serving technology.
What Dapper Does
Dapper's basic service, found at Dapper.net, is essentially a screen scraper with a point and click interface. You identify a field that's common across multiple pages on a website and Dapper will deliver whatever values are in that field by RSS, iCal, KML (mapping language) or in a variety of other formats. It's a very cool way to create mashups on the fly. The company recently released an interface for making Facebook apps quickly and easily.
Dapper is really a head turner, enough so that it has raised VC backing - something only a few consumer level data manipulation services like this can say. They've got a long term vision of creating an API marketplace that could work if website owners get on board. In the meantime, though, they've come up with something simpler and easily monetizable.
The new Dapper Ads service takes Dapper's core technology and puts it to work for site owners themselves. It's pretty simple.
Site owners identify a field that runs across many pages on their site, say the place on each page where a book's title would go or a recipe's ingredients. Dapper then tracks what's in that field and can serve up ads based on the value on any given page. There's a long but good screencast available on the site.
If you've got a cooking site, for example, you can train Dapper Ads to identify the ingredients list on each recipe's page and serve up an offer to purchase all those ingredients together. Or, Dapper could serve up cook books on pages for recipes with more than a certain number of calories identified and dieting books on pages with fewer calories. There's a world of possibilities.
Instead of keyword discovery by algorithm or some other means of determining what's contextual, Dapper lets site owners tell the ad technology exactly where to look to find any given page's meaning. It's reminiscent of the approach described by Alex Iskold in his recent post here titled, "Top Down: A New Approach to the Semantic Web."
At launch Dapper Ads works only with Amazon.com affiliate ads. The company says it is launching now to prove that it can provide a higher click-through rate than other ad serving technologies and will then expand to include more merchants and advertisers.
Dapper Ads will launch next month with demonstration ads on a major music review site. You can try the service out on your site now.