Spottt Reincarnates LinkExchange

Spottt, which went into private beta at TechCrunch40, launches to the public today. The product is part of the Adbrite advertising network, but is being run as a separate brand.

It is a reincarnation of sorts of LinkExchange, an advertising network that launched in the mid nineties and was later acquired by Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million. LinkExchange co-founder Tony Hsieh (also the CEO of Zappos) is advising Adbrite on Spottt.

The basic idea is that you place the Spottt 125×125 ad unit on your site, above the fold (no adult content). They provide a simple embed code, or you can use your own ad serving software (we use OpenAds). For every two ad impressions that you serve, you’ll get one free ad somewhere on the network (you can see the ad unit here on TechCrunch, we’ve added it into the sponsor’s area to the right to test it), and it is also on CrunchBase.

That leaves Spottt with 50% of the ad inventory for itself. For the first year they’ll just place their own ads on sites. After a year they’ll add the extra inventory to Adbrite and let advertisers purchase it.

This isn’t for everyone, of course. Sites that can sell ads will want to do so to make the money. But Adbrite founder Philip Kaplan notes that there are millions of websites that cannot afford to advertise, and this gives them a way of doing so without paying. And even sites that have advertising units on their site may want to add this to get some inventory on other sites. “I think this is the coolest thing we’ve ever built,” he said.

Spottt is also providing real time statistics for users, including the number of ads you’ve shown, the number you’ve received (half of that) and the number of clicks on both ads you are showing and those you are receiving. Click on the image for a larger view of sample stats.

Spottt is run from Amazon’s EC2 web service, and advertising images are hosted on Akamai (Kaplan says he wants to be able to scale quickly in the event it grows anything like LinkExchange did back in the day). They are also working with Gigya to enable the placement of the ad unit on MySpace and other social networks. If ads aren’t accepted on any particular social network, he says, they’ll just run their house ads on that site.

If you’d like to sign up for the service, use the code “techcrunch” and get 1,000 free impressions to start. The first 1,000 registrations qualify.