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Paid ad placements on web sites.
June 4, 2001 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Paid ad placements on web sites. Why not? They are just about everywhere else.
posted by Postroad (13 comments total)

 
My favorite use for goto.com is outlined here.
posted by Hankins at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2001


Cost-per-click search engines like Goto.com are unethical but profitable. But for how long? Will the masses ever wisen up and realize how ineffective CPC search engines are at actually finding information?

Compare any search query between Goto and Google, and judge for yourself which is more useful. A search for "computer games" returns gambling and music stores on Goto, and the best computer game-related sites online from Google.

Specific keyword searches fare a little better than broad cubject searches, since they aren't tainted with paid listings. A search for "waxpancake" turns up 3 relevant results on Goto, but 52 on Google. But maybe, on the whole, that's enough relevant information to keep the average web user coming back.

Google needs an awareness campaign to let people know how tainted Goto's results are.
posted by waxpancake at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2001


Let the free market handle this one - if people are unsatisfied with GoTo results, their revenue & standing will suffer in due time. And remember that no one gets hurt - if people choose to use GoTo, that's their business. There is no theft, crime, or injury occuring here.
posted by davidmsc at 7:19 AM on June 4, 2001


Wax I tend to agree with you, but on the other hand I find GoTo can be very useful when you're really looking for something to buy. I don't think the intention is to rival Google for results or even relevancy, but rather to give business a chance to locate themselves in specific niches where consumers might be looking.

The problem as I see it is that GoTo cannot be successful without partnering with major sites (which they've done), but users of these major sites may not understand that the results they are getting are based on payment.

However I do think there is room for this kind of search, and I know for a fact it can be very beneficial to small businesses searching for customers and finding little in the way of effective and quick online marketing.
posted by FPN at 7:52 AM on June 4, 2001


GoTo.com is unethical? When they list what each advertiser is paying for their listing right next to it? I don't think there's any secret at all that their listings are for sale.

It's the Yellow Pages. I've never heard of the Yellow Pages being called unethical.
posted by kindall at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2001


Seems like GoTo's other niche might be with people who don't know how to search accurately. Bill Gross states (halfway through the article) that his "real" motive was to "clean up search results" when the only keyword might be "books" and 8 of 10 returned results might be porn or not about books at all.

Excuse me? What do you expect from such a broad search? I'm really impressed that Google gets such good results for "books": Amazon, Borders, B & N, NY Times, Salon, Slashdot, a few academic sites, and some small booksellers.

Of course, Gross's whole line of reasoning may be marketing bullshit, because even yahoo.com just got good results. No pr0n in sight.
posted by Pyth at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2001


"It's the Yellow Pages."

Yes, but it shouldn't be. I'm not going to go so far as to call goto.com unethical, but the concept is a subversion of what the end user would want the tool to be.

When I search I'm almost never looking for a merchant that can sell me something. The idea that my searches will be filtered by what advertisers want me to see is very troubling.

Of course I don't like goto, so I don't use it. But I find the trend very disturbing. A subscription model that would force search engines to cater to *my* needs would be so nice. Unfortunately you people want everything free, so you're going to see what advertisers want you to.

Very troubling.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:05 PM on June 4, 2001


Only on Goto's official website do they list the cost for the advertiser. Most of the affiliates that use their search results attempt to pass them off as fair and honest listings, such as those on Findology and Searchfuel.
posted by waxpancake at 11:05 PM on June 4, 2001


When I search I'm almost never looking for a merchant that can sell me something. The idea that my searches will be filtered by what advertisers want me to see is very troubling.

Well, obviously, then, you should use some other search engine for the majority of your searches! You might use the Yellow Pages when you're looking for a plumber or a pizza. If you want the phone number of an acquaintance from work, it's quite the wrong tool, isn't it? Why in the world would you ever use GoTo except when you're looking for a business? And that being the case, why would you be upset that the listings are paid for? Wouldn't you expect that of any sort of business directory? I just don't understand why GoTo bothers you so, I guess.

Only on Goto's official website do they list the cost for the advertiser. Most of the affiliates that use their search results attempt to pass them off as fair and honest listings, such as those on Findology and Searchfuel.

I didn't know this. I agree they should change this, so that the two dozen people who have heard of Findology and Searchfuel won't be fooled.
posted by kindall at 11:57 PM on June 4, 2001


Sometimes the paid listings can be hard to distinguish, even in the major search engines. AltaVista just changed the labeling of their paid results from "Sponsored Links" to "Featured Sites," and moved them from the bottom to the top of the search results (example).

I've been disturbed about this trend for a while now, and it's good to see that others are worried, too.
posted by Aaaugh! at 12:06 AM on June 5, 2001


Following up on Waxy's comment: metasearch tools often don't differentiate between search engines with paid and unpaid results. Dogpile is a very popular site, and look at the sites they search. Nine of the seventeen sites are pay sites, and on the first page of a standard search, three of the four sites listed are ones with paid results. Bleah.
posted by Aaaugh! at 12:24 AM on June 5, 2001


Northernlight.com's results are still relevancy-ranked, as opposed to advertiser-ranked. (disclosure: I work for NL)
posted by preguicoso at 7:03 AM on June 5, 2001


It seems to me that the Digital Divide has a new frontier. In the past, its been about access... in the strictly technical sense. But this definition ignores what users actually find when they do log on. As search engines are the library card-catalog equivalent to the Web, it is troubling that their results are being compromised in favor of the big, wealthy, and powerful. This does not surprise me, but there seems to be a silly assumption that searching technology is unbiased as it is based on boolean formulas and text-matching criteria. However, search results are increasing being influenced by big commercial interests. Search engines and portals are said to be the gateways of the Internet... perhaps we should more critically evaluate their gatekeeping power.
posted by karlcleveland at 11:41 PM on June 5, 2001


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