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Advertising system for electronic chat environments

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015965D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Aug-18
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21

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Disclosed is a system and method to provide advertising in text based chat environments using automated programs (chatbots). Chatbots work by listening-in on public text based forums and offering information about related goods and services. When certain keywords occur in ongoing discussions (e.g. a company name, the name of a product, the name of a class of objects or services), the chatbot responds with short preprogrammed responses that are sent to the public viewing area of the public forum. In another embodiment, the chatbots listen for a set of keywords in the conversation and then begin discussing the topic with another chatbot according to a preprogrammed script. The current method of advertising in chat environments is to place banner ads around the discussion area in hopes that viewers will glance at the ads and occasionally click them. The present system better leverages the interactive and engrossing properties of the chat environment by (a) putting the message where the user's attention is; (b) providing an easy-to-use channel for interacting with the user; (c) transmitting more information; (d) providing immediate feedback concerning user interest to advertisers; (e) providing fine-grained on-topic advertising. A problem many online companies face is producing adequate revenue to remain in operation and provide user services. Most of these companies employ an advertising business model as their primary source of revenue. However, the rate advertiser's are willing to pay has decreased because many online companies do not seem to attract enough visitors to profit from advertising. The result is that some online companies have failed. The solution to making this advertising business model profitable is not only to attract a large volume of visitors but, also, to leverage the inherent advantages of online interaction mediums (e.g. World Wide Web, IRC, ICQ, Usenet). One of these advantages is that users interact directly and in real-time with information---unlike television. Thus, many users view and read online banner advertising but these impressions are never counted or used by the advertiser. Since the advertiser only counts banner clicks and few users actually click banner ads, the advertisers are getting a poor representation of the impressions made by the banners and consequently, advertisers are beginning to pay less for online ads. The solution to this problem is to obtain a more direct measure of viewer interest. Another advantage of the online medium is that many people use online systems to obtain information and to communicate with others. Thus, the amount of attention directed through this medium is tremendous. Advertising is already taking advantage of web browsing but has not yet exploited text based communication such as chat and messaging services. A recent report from CyberAtlas[1] states that a whopping 750 million messages are sent through AOL text communications systems (AOL BuddyList, ICQ, and chat) and 150,000 users are registering for the AOL chat service each day. This is more messages than all the phone calls (250 million) and all the letters sent (500 million) each day. Plus, this is only one service provider. The potential advertising revenue from text based communications services is staggering. The present invention was built to take advantage of the explosion in text based online 1