Proximic, a Munich startup, has signed a deal with Ebay's Shopping.com and Yahoo's Shopping network to serve contextual ads on their platforms. If you have never heard of Proximic, here the corporate info from their company homepage: "The Proximic Platform is an open contextual ecosystem to connect publishers, bloggers and end-users by delivering related news, articles, background information and ads in a better way."
What's really great is that any(!) web publisher can post the Proximic widget on their site. I am also glad that finally somebody understood where Google's weakest link is: It's
what a surprise Adsense.
At this point any company will have a very hard time to build a better search engine or a better Adwords tool. Google is an amazing brand and people adapted to Google search and tools.
Google Adsense however is a product that is still far from being perfect. The contextual ads are pretty much on target, but the cut, that Google keeps (about 30-50% commission), is something that is just too much in the several billion dollar online advertising industry.
A smart startup like Proximic could pay out 80-90% of the advertisers spent and still take a decent profit home.
An "open advertising market" is something publishers and advertisers are looking for. I am a relatively big search advertiser as well as an Adsense client and since I gave up seeing Microsoft or Yahoo coming up with an Adwords killer, I would be more than happy to have some real alternatives to Adsense.
I hope that Proximic is able to sign on a lot of publishers and advertisers.