Instant messaging software maker Meebo on Thursday introduced an application programming interface to automate the process of embedding its ad-carrying chat rooms into Web pages.
The new API makes it possible to automate the creation and configuration of the chat rooms and then integrate them into user registration databases and content management and publishing systems, the company said. In addition, companies willing to let Meebo stream ads would be entitled to 50% of the revenue. Those who don't want the ads can pay a licensing fee.
Meebo is a Web site that offers people access to six different instant messaging networks and other real-time communications services. In offering the latest APIs, the company is hoping its chat rooms will show up in more social networks, entertainment sites with community groups for artists or shows, and the comments sections of blogs.
Before the latest API, companies using Meebo chat rooms had to configure them and integrate them into sites manually, one room at a time, Meebo said. Web sites that have agreed to use the new API and take part in the advertising network include Piczo, Revision3, RockYou, Social Project, and Tagged.
Meebo boasts 6 million monthly users, which makes it a far smaller player in social networking when compared with the leaders. Facebook, for example, has 55 million members.
But Meebo gets a greater share of users' time. According to Meebo chief executive Seth Sternberg, the average session on the site is 2-1/2 hours, which happens to be as long as the average Internet session. Not all the time amounts to active use, but Sternberg claims the Meebo browser window is active 43% of the time, which amounts to over an hour of face time.
In comparison, the average Facebook session, as measured in the United Kingdom, lasts about 14 minutes, and the average MySpace session is about 25 minutes, according to Internet metrics firm Hitwise.