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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

SES Scoop #1: Yahoo Paid Inclusion

Placing a drinking cup on a random door at the New York Hilton has resulted in our first Search Engine Strategies conference scoop today. OK, actually, I read it on CNET. If you can manage to steer past the announcement of a new version of WordPerfect (and Quattro Pro!), there is a story on something called the Content Aggregation Program as well as an apparently pricy new paid inclusion program called Site Match. Similar to a model that LookSmart tried in the past, Site Match will ask webmasters to pay for inclusion of each individual URL ($49, $29, then $10 depending on how many included), and then also on a per-click basis.

Emails are circulating and posts are speculating about various pieces of news possibly coming down from Yahoo/Overture, but what precisely is it? Or is is several announcements?

At this point it looks like Yahoo may not be done with its announcement flurry and that Overture will have separate news of its own to share.

Back to the CNET item, though: interesting how Yahoo has chosen to couple the announcement of a "deeper inclusion" of disparate sources of content (including so-called 'invisible web' material) with the paid inclusion announcement. So what's the real story here? That depends on who you are. Do users win? It certainly sounds like they do on the surface, but it remains to be seen whether the public will appreciate the inclusion of material from NPR and the Library of Congress, or whether the user's search for a good experience will be overshadowed by the suspicion that the inclusion program privileges paying advertisers.

For in-house search marketers, it's a potential nightmare: pay three or four different ways to appear on Yahoo, and then you might still need to agonize over how to optimize your pages to outdo others in the rankings. It's a byzantine system that will probably leave a lot of work for SEM specialists, especially those who specialize in paid inclusion and optimizing pages within a paid-inclusion environment. (Did someone say byzantine? Did someone say 'the rebirth of a metatag'? Did someone say "Bruce Clay looks really good in this month's issue of Wired"?)

Enough of this nonsense, it's back to checking up on some good old pay-per-click accounts. Only a googolplex of permutations to ponder there... phew.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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