>Anyt thoughts on this?
merlin, I once checked into putting one of those search boxes on a site with a good amount of specifically-oriented traffic that would get paid for sending targeted visitors to a search engine. After thinking about it, I figured that the person who would end up paying me, in the long run, would be the person who was paying for their rankings.
I decided against it, my reasoning being that even though I wouldn't pull anything, there could be too much room for abuse in such a system, costing those who paid for listings more than the value they'd be receiving.
Hypothetically speaking, if there were a site selling Australian widgets that paid for a #1, and I knew it was a popular "niche" item, I could put a search up to send people looking for those widgets, whether or not my site had anything to do with it, or was in any way relevant. People might click on #1 just out of curiosity if it had a good enough page title and description, but it would not necessarily be a targeted visitor, since the only reason I had sent them there was to get my bit of change out of it.
I remember looking at the sites that offered that, and there's no way the relevancy or legitimacy of the sites sending the traffic could be checked out - the staffing requirements to do that would deplete their working capital before they ever got a chance to turn a profit.
PPC on a local level is probably viable, but imho, if it involves paying sites to send "targeted" traffic, it involves too much risk to be viable to pay for the listings. I wouldn't do either, personally.
On the other hand, Google is doing just fine this year with nothing but a straightforward business model, displaying their advertising honestly and openly, providing the most relevant search results to be found, and by employing, from what contact I've had, incredibly wonderful staff.
Public declarations about a "conflict" with Google may get a bit of press, but imho, it's apples and oranges - no discernible resemblance.