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Will there be a day when the SEs ask certain websites for "exclusives"? That is, in exchange for enhanced advertising or other benefits, the website agrees to be listed exclusively on that SE. (Nevermind the technicals of doing this, we're discussing the future here.)
Let's say MSN decided to go after the automobile industry. They approach Pontiac, GM, Ferrari et al with a package that combines benefits A, B and C across all of Microsoft's divisions. They offer these things to the car companies in exchange for an exclusive listing on msn.com. Pontiac, GM, Ferrari et al do not make their websites available to the other SEs in this scenario. The car companies trickle down the exclusive demand to their own partners, vendors, etc. and a powerful alliance is formed with msn the SE winner for that industry.
As competition between SEs gets more intense as time goes on, I have to think this is one of the things that is possible. Proprietary programming with annual contracts. Bidding wars, stock options . . . what do you think?
Yahoo already has its claws into several things.....most notably.....Donald Trump!
I believe that at least 95% of the mainstream market will remain "free floating", but, the 5% high-profile stuff is definitely in the area of negotiating exclusive deals!