Following a rebranding last year, Xmarks, a social bookmarking and search tool, has been growing steadily in users. Following the addition of its search feature last March, Xmarks now has 4.5 million active users and has bookmarked 1 billion URLS. Xmarks is free as a plug-in to users (and is available on IE8, Firefox, Chrome and Safari) but until now, has not turned on any revenue streams. Today, the bookmarking service is launching its first monetization channel, called SearchBoost, which is designed to increase click-thru rates on search ads and provide deeper analytics to participating advertisers.
So Xmarks aggregates and analyzes over a billion bookmarks to create web site ratings and reviews via on its platform. Reviews are added by Xmarks users, at a rate of 200,000 web site reviews per month. Currently, if the service is installed on a user’s computer, Xmarks will show a ranking and starred review curated from Xmarks’ database of reviewed URLs and sites next to the search result on any Google or Bing search. With SearchBoost, Xmarks will add the ranking and starred review next to ads within these search results. This feature is live in Xmarks for Firefox, and is coming soon to Xmarks for IE and Xmarks for Chrome. Unfortunately, the feature’s technology doesn’t work with Safari.
So does SearchBoost promise higher click through rates? James Joaquin, CEO of Xmarks, says yes. In a study of over 200,000 users, Xmarks found that SearchBoost increased pay-per-click performance by 15%. Joaquin says that these ads are more trusted because of the ratings and starred reviews, so consumers tend to click on these ads vs. normal search ads that appear in Google or Bing searches.
Along with SearchBoost, advertisers will get an advanced analytics platform that gives them insight into the click through behavior and performance of both paid and organic search results. Using anonymous data from Xmarks’ community of four million plus users, Xmarks will show advertisers how many people have bookmarked their site, how many bookmarks competitors have, how may impressions, clicks their advertisements and URLs receive within the bookmarking community. Additionally, the analytics platform will show advertisers which search terms are delivering the most clicks across both paid and organic search results and more metrics. And Xmarks is now seeing an average of 15 million daily searches and 450 million searches per month.
SearchBoost, which includes the search ad offering and the analytics, has four levels of pricing. Level 1 will see you back $29 per month and allows for a maximum of 250 clicks on your ad, and a maximum of 25 different reports (each URL or search term is one report). Level 3 is $99 per month, offers 10,000 monthly clicks and 1000 reports. And Xmarks will also be offering a customized enterprise plan as well.
The product is appealing for advertisers, especially if it improves click through rates on ads within Google and Bing. And the price seems affordable for small businesses. But the caveat is that you’ll only be gaining data from Xmarks’ 4 million plus users.
Founded by Mitch Kapor and Todd Agulnick, Xmarks competes with other popular social bookmarking applications like Delicious and StumbleUpon, which also offers a paid advertising service. Xmarks has raised a total of $8 million in funding.