Channel 5 has invested £750,000 in an internet site which alerts men to their partners' birthdays, anniversaries and offers advice on presents, in the form of advertising.
The deal, which sees Channel 5 take a 5 per cent stake in Surpriseyourwoman.com, signals a new approach to advertising sales by broadcasters as the industry is trying to avoid a forecast decline in the market brought on by a freeze in internet company marketing spend.
The model of payment for airtime in cash allows internet companies to continue advertising to a mass audience without draining their cash. Channel 5 could make money if the site increases in value, although it agreed it was a high-risk strategy.
Channel 5's head of new business, James Burgon, said the broadcaster had similar arrangements with other internet companies.
"It is a risk, because if the sites go belly up, we will lose money, but we only need one or two to work to make a return," he added.
Surpriseyourwoman.com launched today and will advertise for 20 weeks on Channel 5. A range of other brands is planned, including Surpriseyourman and Surpriseyourmother. Other names registered by the two founders also include Surpriseyourcat and Surpriseyourenemy.