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MSN with out LookSmart? Beta Testing

     
6:44 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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[stocks.internetnews.com...]

Quote from above article

"Looksmart (NASDAQ:LOOK) plunged after the company reported in an SEC filing that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is beta testing a search engine that doesn't include Looksmart results. The news dampened speculation that MSN may acquire Looksmart."

6:50 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I was just trying to research a few things on LookSmart -- has anyone done that lately? It looks like a suicide site, with amazing numbers of broken links even at the top levels and no marketing whatsoever - guess they are leaving it up to their partners and affiliates.

MSN would be smart to dump LS, from what I can see. I just wonder if they intend to bring PPC completely in-house.

6:54 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Is it worth keeping Looksmart? I mean, with the mandatory 15.00 per month, they must think they are Overture or something.

CompWorld

8:37 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So what will MSN use. Only Inktomi? Or will it also introduce its own search engine using the data that MSNbot crawled.

Do you think a search engine can perform well without a directory support. We have 3 major engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN (all 3 have been using directory now).

If using a directory is very importance for relevancy, perhaps MSN is playing this trump so that Looksmart's shares go very down and then they can buy the company for a low price.

8:42 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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More Update:

"Shares of LookSmart shed 79 cents, or 21%, to $3.01 on Nasdaq. The company said Microsoft's MSN has been testing various options on its United Kingdom search page to determine the impact of eliminating or replacing most of the company's directory listings supplied by LookSmart.

In a note Friday, US Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy said that he believes MSN will renew its agreement with LookSmart "but the major unknown factors are the level of implementation of the company's listings on MSN's page, which could determine the total revenue generated for LookSmart, and the revenue-share agreement.""

[quicken.com...]

8:45 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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That is interesting news. Now the question is: who can come up with a URL for the beta? I'd like to see these results!
10:25 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think we may see that on [beta.search.msn.com...] in a couple of days.
1:13 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Could be they are testing to see the impact on relevancy with MSN results only. The only reason to do that is to gauge the viability of going it alone with an eye to monetizing the serps with pfi.

The other thing they are testing, according to the news item, is MSN results with a LS backfill, presumably to fill in holes or enhance the results.

I have often stated here that LS is the ideal match for MSN and I believe those cards are still in the deck, with a strong potentiality for getting dealt and played.

1:38 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think this is another nail in the pay-for-inclusion coffin. Why would someone pay to have a URL included when the best engines will crawl it for free, if it is a good site with lots of incoming links.

If you HAVE to pay, then your site is probably a lower quality site, compared to the rest of the sites out there.

Pay-for-inclusion engines always seem to show inferior results and I'm surprised that MSN has kept LS this long.

I hope MSN takes the Google approach with their new engine, FREE crawling of the whole web (or as much as they can chew). Google has proven that that is the model that works.

The pay-for-inclusion engines have all had problems and ending up in trouble financially. The reason is simple. Their results are inferior.

1:43 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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What I have noticed is that lots of Looksmart results include Amazon listings, and the Amazon listings have a Looksmart affiliate ID like this one from MSN's LS listings:

lksmsubsite-sub-bk-asin-20

7:21 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Here is an interesting reading:
[money.cnn.com...]

"The test results "will affect Microsoft's decision to renew the distribution agreement, and whether to continue to distribute some or all of our paid listings after the agreement expires," said LookSmart. The company added, "Based on our discussions with Microsoft, it is likely that the licensing portion of the agreement will be renewed, but that it will result in less licensing revenue than under the current agreement."

4:04 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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<<<The pay-for-inclusion engines have all had problems and ending up in trouble financially. The reason is simple. Their results are inferior.>>>

So If we can't make any money let's give it for FREE. Make sense. The only reason MSN will drop LS is if they think they can make more somewhere else or with a different approach.

But then again maybe they should take Worker advise and drop Overtur, LookSmart and Inktomi where they are making money form and implement a Free crawl engine. Sounds good to me, I would like that.

4:31 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>Why would someone pay to have a URL included when the best engines will crawl it for free, if it is a good site with lots of incoming links.

Because it makes the person who has paid a lot of money in return perhaps?

Just a thought ;)

The LookSmart US results have been out of MSN UK for about 2 months now (incidently).

4:42 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think MSN will make a Google-like model. It will crawl the entire net with its own MSNbot, use LookSmart directory for relevancy (just like Google uses DMOZ), dump Overture, and make its in-house PPC model (like Adwords).

Should be interesting.

5:17 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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...make its in-house PPC model (like Adwords)

I've been wondering about that. With Overture already suing Google and FindWhat, that move would probably generate yet another PPC lawsuit (just my guess) -- but there certainly is money to be made in PPC, so that alone would not be a deterrent for MS.

Has anyone heard or seen any indications about a MS PPC program that are more than speculation?

5:40 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well, if MSN drops or demotes LS listings, MSN loses their cut of the LS 15 cents a click.

However, if MSN gains more traffic with more relevant SERPs, then MSN may make more from their cut of the increased Overture clicks which average about 40 cents.

Let's face it, the big money is being made in pay per click. Why mess around with LS's failing business model when PPC is booming?

11:47 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The company may be about to learn the risk of getting into bed with an elephant - it's okay until they roll over and squish you.

The company disclosed in its quarterly report late Thursday that Microsoft intends to test a version of MSN without LookSmart in Europe and the US, and may decide not to renew its contract with the company if the new format works.

LookSmart said: "The test results will affect Microsoft's decision to renew the distribution agreement, and whether to continue to distribute some or all of our paid listings after the agreement expires."

[cbronline.com...]

8:40 pm on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think MSN will make a Google-like model. It will crawl the entire net with its own MSNbot, use LookSmart directory for relevancy (just like Google uses DMOZ), dump Overture, and make its in-house PPC model (like Adwords).

That sounds good to me. I don't think pure PFI makes too many people happy.

8:53 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I would love to see MSN dump looksmart. I'm sure they can do better. It would be nice if they just used ink results. Or a similar system so that you can either PFI and get in real quick or be patient and smart, create a valuable site, and get in relatively fast for free.

I believe that the search engines should make their money by providing a good product that companies will pay to use.
They should not make their money off of webmasters and site owners. If they can not provide a competitive SE service they should get out of the business instead of trying to sucker people.

Concerning an earlier post in this thread about a relationship between looksmart and amazon...
I have noticed two editors at looksmart who are also editors at amazon. I wonder how many more there may be.

aek

9:18 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Looks to me as though looksmart listings have disappeared from msn.co.uk.
9:54 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I still see LS UK listings.
10:32 am on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I see Looksmart results on MSN UK.

aek

12:15 pm on Aug 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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When I search from www.msn.co.uk it automatically redirects me to [beta.uk.search.msn.com...]
which has beta written beside the msn logo and only shows sponsored listings then web pages but no web directory sites.
1:45 am on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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[finance.lycos.com...]

About 50 million unique users hit MSN with search queries each month, Payne said.

Separately, Payne said MSN is sticking with paid-inclusion partner LookSmart Ltd. (NASDAQ:LOOK), which allows Web site operators to pay to have more of their pages included in Internet searches.

Seems like they are going to stick with LOOKSmart.

And to all those people who keep saying (over and over & over)that looksmart is a failing business model, think about this:

1. Lycos just signed up with them.

2. Net Income Increases to $1.2 Million: Under GAAP, LookSmart's net income was $1.2 million or $0.01 per diluted share for the quarter ending june 30th.

3. Revenue Grows 83%: LookSmart reported second quarter 2003 revenue of $38.4 million, representing an 83% increase from the second quarter 2002

4. Why is google PPC so much better than looksmart as people dont seem to mind adwords charging ppc? But looksmart charging ppc is bad?

5. MSN is making millions off of looksmart. I (in my opinion) dont think their just gonna get rid of that income.

6. If yall havent noticed looksmarts "wisenut.com" is looking much better and MSN really needs a back fill engine, I really dont think MSN will beable to make their own engine any time soon. It aint that easy!

7. If intkomi sold for 250 million whats wisnut+Look worth?

:o)

2:21 am on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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looksmarts "wisenut.com" is looking much better...

First, let me say that I happen to like LS. They come in handy and have a terrific community in Zeal.

However, I have to disagree with the above statement because it simply is not true.

Wisenut hasn't been updated for months. I heard it straight from Looksmart yesterday at the SES.

Additionally, they promised (Just as they had at the March SES) to start a new regular update, on a 45 day refresh schedule (back in March they were promising an imminent 30 day refresh schedule).

9:51 am on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If it was me at MSN, I'd announced to the world I was testing without LS and keep announcing it. Watch the LS share value drop through the floor and then pick it up for a bargain.

Doug

10:19 am on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If it was me at MSN, I'd announced to the world I was testing without LS and keep announcing it. Watch the LS share value drop through the floor and then pick it up for a bargain.

Doug, are you from MSN ;) Actually I think the same. LS would go very down and MSN would buy it off.

10:59 am on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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MSN have often used this beta test without the LS listing over the past few years, there are a few posts about it WW.

It's my guess that we'll see it switch back to include LS within a week.

I'm also seeing beta on msn.co.uk

Smiley

1:53 pm on Aug 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It occurs to me that the "free" listings for all the sites that paid the old one-off-rip-off directory inclusion fee are due to run out in the near future. That will see a dramatic decline not only in the number of results in the LS database, but also in the quality. I would think that MSN will need to come up with a solution to deal with this looming issue.

How many people here still refuse to pay more money beyond their "free" allocation?

11:15 am on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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MSN often appears to me without LS listings on beta, whilst others see the normal results. If you acquire a MSN beta cookie then you'll see the beta test without LS, delete this cookie and you'll see the normal results.

Smiley

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