The Widget Way to Wealth

eBay has long touted an affiliate program that rewards smaller sites for sending traffic to the online marketplace. Now start-up AuctionAds promises to help Web publishers earn more from eBay via a downloaded widget that shows auction ads related to content on their sites.

When someone clicks on an AuctionAds listing and then makes a transaction or registers on eBay, a site gets paid. By aggregating eBay traffic from individual sites, AuctionAds says it helps most publishers make more than they could through eBay's own keyword ad tool, run by Commission Junction.

After launching at the beginning of March, more than 7,000 sites have already adopted the AuctionAds widget. "What we wanted to create was something as easy to set up as [Google] AdSense, but leverage the high payout that eBay offers," says Jeremy Schoemaker, co-founder of AuctionAds, majority-owned by his ShoeMoney Media.

The more traffic a site drives to eBay, the more it can earn - up to 65 percent on sales and $22 for each new user registration. So far, AuctionAds is passing along 100 percent of the eBay fees it collects, though Schoemaker says eventually it will take a percentage while still paying sites at least as much as they'd make as direct partners.

So how does eBay view the affiliate interloper? After all, the online giant unveiled its own keyword-based contextual ad program last year that it called AdContext. Schoemaker says the company has embraced AuctionAds as a creative new use of the eBay API. "We've been invited to speak at every event they have now," he ads, noting that his start-up is already close to cracking eBay's top 10 affiliates.

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