Snap.com popups that have thankfully disappeared from most blogs again? Don't be too happy about that yet, because Microsoft is about to release a very similar product name Gaze. Gaze, which is set to launch on April 15th, will provide contextual ads based on keywords in the content of a site. Just like Snap, Gaze will underline keywords on a web page and will pop up a small box with ads and additional information about the keyword whenever you hover over it.Do you remember those annoying
Todd Bishop, who alerted us to this announcement, has done some additional sleuthing and found out that Microsoft hasn't yet registered the trademarks for most of the terms that Mario Esposito, an adCenter Labs program manager, uses in the announcement of this new product. However, given that the beta program runs under the Microsoft Advertising banner, Bishop assumes "that this is more than just a research project."
We tried to install the Gaze code on our own websites, but it didn't pick up on any keywords yet. This is no surprise though, given that the beta only supports two content types right now: celebrities and travel.
We were able to try out the back-end of Gaze, however. The site allows content producers to heavily customize the user experience. You can, for example, choose whether the popup box is activated when users hover over it, or only once they actually click on the link. You can also change the color of the popup box, and manipulate when and where the popups appear.
When Snap's popups first appeared in 2007, they were generally considered to be highly annoying and many users argued that they ruined the reading experience. Since then, Snap has toned things down a bit, but Gaze looks like a throwback to the old Snap experience. Other companies, like Panels.net, are trying to implement similar ideas. There are definitely situations where these popup boxes can be quite helpful - stock quotes, for example - but most readers never really warmed up to the idea of popup info boxes.