Bad news for banner ads = good news for 'featuretisements'?

BlueTie tying up with Amazon.com, FTD.com and BlackBerry maker RIM.

The rule is engagement

The 9-year-old firm is much more obscure than its competitors (which include Yahoo!'s Zimbra, Google Apps, and Microsoft Outlook and Exchange) because of its upstate New York base, as well as its reliance on a 650-member network of partners to resell its services -- usually under their own brand, not BlueTie's.

The upside, argues Koretz, is that BlueTie has better access to SMBs than competitors such as Google that market only online.

BlueTie doesn't only use a CPA model. For a straight US$6 subscription per month, BlueTie plans to let its users synchronize their e-mail between their BlueTie accounts and their BlackBerries. Syncing contacts is in the works, as are syncing calendar and tasks lists.

All told, Koretz predicts featuretisements will help BlueTie pull in about US$2 per user this year. And with another 16 unnanounced partnerships in the pipeline, BlueTie should reap between US$7 to US$9 per user in 2009, he estimates.

Laszlo applauds BlueTie's attempt, along with those by other Web firms, to try ad models that exploit engagement, or how long a user stays on site, rather than just how many pages they view.

His main concern is whether BlueTie can offer featuretisements to users without making them feel their privacy is being compromised.

"You've got be like Google, which with Gmail, is making sure it never [sends ads] from words that are R-rated or beyond, which people will be very sensitive about," he said.

That's not a problem, says BlueTie VP of product management, Jeremy Hunter.

"We never scan your incoming e-mail. And you can turn off a particular vendor at any given time," he said.

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