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I don't know that this would make sense in organic search. Popularity is already folded into the algorithm, no?
New in Google Labs - Read news fast with Google Fast Flip
The feature was developed in conjunction with a group of major newpaper publishers with the specific intent of creating ad revenue. The interface attempts to echo the browsing experience you get in a newspaper, and it serves related display ads. As a way of browsing a newspaper, I don't think that quite works... but, as a way of displaying ads, it might have some possibilities.
Google hasn't yet licked the problem of an ad for a product displayed next to a negative story about the product, but I'm sure they will soon. ;)
It's hard to say whether this ad interface might work with other kinds of search, as the "flipping" pages are large enough that you often don't need to visit the publishers' sites to read the stories. In this current news model, the news publishers share in the ad revenues; it's an opt-in arrangement for the publishers. In other kinds of search, page display this large might be objectionable.
I should note that this appears to be Google's first direct attempt at news monetization via ads.
I'll be interested to see whether the publishers gain more from this model than from selling ads on their own pages with the current headline and snippet model. I think the current model is still more likely to drive visitors to the newspaper site... but Google's related display ads may attract more clicks and revenue.
I would expect considerably smaller graphics (though perhaps bigger than Cuil).
Agreed, but then you wouldn't be able to use them to browse, and what would be the point of having them?
About 15 months ago (which seems like a lifetime in web time if you consider how much has happened since), there was a new search engine, now defunct, called SearchMe, with a striking graphic interface that prompted some extremely contentious discussion in the Alternative Search Engines forum here....
SearchMe is pretty cool
The major issue (among many) was that the page images were too large and the snippets were too long, large enough and long enough that they could cost some publishers a lot of traffic. Though the page displays were quite a bit smaller than the main images in Fast Flip, the interface was much jazzier. The SearchMe thread is required reading if you're thinking of building a graphic search engine.
Also re Cuil... not really on topic, but worth mentioning... Cuil's graphics often don't even come from the site they're associated with. Even if they did, they're not really useful for any kind of browsing.