Google Invests in Pixazza, An AdSense for Images

imageIf you’re a publisher using images in your site or blog, and you’re willing to sacrifice a little real estate inside your images, you could be poised to make a nice little chunk of change from Pixazza.

The site, which launches today and hopes to be the AdSense for images, uses crowdsourcing to match products in photos on participating sites with similar products available for purchase, and essentially turns bloggers and content creators into affiliate marketers who can cash in on Pixazza’s merchant network.

Publishers just need to create an account, login to the site, and embed the JavaScript code in the header section of their website. Then, by default, images — even from previously published content — are added to Pixazza’s shoppers’ queue, and once each image has been analyzed, a mouse over call to action will appear over each image.

Since products within photos — namely fashion-related items to begin with — are matched by real people to similar products available for purchase through Pixazza’s merchant network, site visitors can mouse over images to click to buy items they like, and you, the site publisher, get a piece of the action.

Merchants in Pixazza’s shopper catalogue include power-packed retail operations like Zappos, Amazon, BlueFly, Pacsun, Torrid, and Rampage. And if you’re looking to earn a little extra dough, you can sign up to be one their human-powered product matching investigators. The money you make from Pixazza, however, directly correlates to transactions that occur as a result of the products you identified, so it’s 100% commission base.

See the full article at Mashable.

Offerpal’s Virtual Money Service Gets $15M In Funding

Here’s some good news in a particularly troubled time for Internet startups, and it’s especially piquant for anyone who’s been following the rise (and challenges) of social gaming: Offerpal Media is announcing today that it has secured $15 million in Series B funding led by D. E. Shaw Ventures. (InterWest Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners, original investors in the Fremont-based company, also participated.)

That’s a lot of money to invest during a notably down market, but after a phone conversation with Offerpal CEO Anu Shukla, I can see why. The company was profitable four months after its October 2007 launch, and it continues to generate $30-40 million in monthly revenue, according to Shukla.

What will surprise many is how it makes that money: by linking real world marketing offers with virtual currency from hundreds of popular social games running on Facebook, MySpace, etc. Say you want some extra “FFS Coins” to spend in the Friends For Sale Facebook app. You can buy Coins for real cash — or you can complete a transaction with one of Offerpal’s advertising partners. Sign up for a Netflix account, for example, and get millions of virtual FFS Coins as a bonus. Netflix gets new customers, pays Offerpal for each successful acquisition, and Offerpal sends a cut of the revenue back to Friends For Sale developers.

See the full article at GigaOM.

Mobile Restaurant Ordering (Finally) Hits The App Store

In the last week, a pair of new iPhone applications have appeared on the App Store that put the menus of hundreds of restaurants at users’ fingertips. Dubbed GrubHub and CityMint, both applications allow users to order food on the go from online menus, buying entrees, appetizers, and drinks on the fly without the hassle of human interaction.

Our appetites were first whetted three weeks ago, when Chipotle released an official app that let users build their burritos from their iPhone. Unfortunately, the application was pulled down only a few hours after release as a throng of users overwhelmed the app’s servers. The Chipotle app is still missing in action, but these new offerings should be able to hold us over.

See the full article at TechCrunch.

Amazon launches casual game download service

Amazon.com is jumping into the digitally distributed games market with its straightforwardly titled, um, "Amazon Game Downloads." The service begins its beta today and offers 500 casual titles for under $10 each. During the initial launch week, full versions of Jewel Quest 2, Build-a-lot and The Scruffs will be available to download for free.

Read the full article at Joystiq