After launching as a technology showcase for Digital Equipment Corp., the AltaVista Web search site will now run ads to help pay its way.
"It is an expensive proposition to keep maintaining that service, and we're looking at the revenue stream from the advertising to help support the site," says Chuck Malkiel, public relations manager for AltaVista Internet Software, a DEC subsidiary.
The AltaVista site now gets 24 million hits a day. Other leading Web search services, such as Yahoo!, have long accepted advertisements, but DEC pointedly did not do so when it launched AltaVista a year ago, because of a concern that the ads would be a distraction and would slow down the site, Malkiel says.
Since then, DEC has launched an AltaVista line of intranet/Internet software, licensed the search service to overseas mirror site operators who sell ads, broken the business unit off into a DEC subsidiary, and considered filing for an AltaVista initial public offering. Meanwhile, advertising technology has improved and the Internet community has begun to accept the idea of ads on the Web, Malkiel says.
AltaVista has contracted DoubleClick, a New York-based firm, to start selling ads for the site. Ad banners will be targeted to searches; for example, when a user searches for information on automobiles, they will also see banners advertising cars.
AltaVista, in Maynard, Massachusetts, can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.altavista.digital.com/.