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Is This A Proper Search Partner?

I've seen bad, but IMO this one is big & bad!

     
7:40 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Recently I keep reading of a much-hyped Search service that claims to be "one of the only incentivized search engines to feature google results".

Without dropping any URLs, their name consists of a alang term for stolen goods followed by a slang term for money.

They intermingle Google Search Partner ads throughout the page, mixed among the SERPs they show. An advertiser on the Search Network could be paying whatever bid to be number 24 on their pages.

They claim to denote the sponsored results, but do so by showing your green Display URL (which is clickable) labelled "Sponsored By [www....] example. com/index.html where "example" is the Adwords advertiser's domain.

By using their Search site, also available as a widget for your blog or toolbar, you "earn" eponymously named points for searches that you perform. Just checking it out after reading about it in "how to save money" type articles gained me some points - redeemable for gift certificates.

There is a casino style progressive ticker on the right side continuously updating which shows how much "John P." or whoever just earned on a search.

I see bad Search Partners in my logs all the time but like the rest of us accept them in order to reap the good search portals. However, this one is spreading virally throughout the web -- everyone is a winner except the Adwords advertisers.

1) Searchers get "points" simply by searching Google results, a "dynamic mix of sponsored and organic results" (the company's words).

2) People putting up the widget on their blogs get "points" too. Admittedly this is not so unlike the Google Search Box that Adsense Publishers can use, but Adsense publishers must adhere to strict TOS and not encourage clicks.

3) This reeks of MLM because one gets 100 free points for every "friend" they refer. (USE THE FRIEND REFERRAL! It is a great way to pad your account)

4) The sponsored results returned are not properly relevant to the queries by any means.

I've shuddered countless times over what passes for Google Search Partners, but does anyone else feel this one is a little bit over the top?

Atun
5:36 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One question,

you mentioned points for searches but not points for clicks. Are they giving points for actually clicking on sponsored links? If not, it could be what actually keeps them off the chopping block.
5:37 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I see they use both G and A, which makes it see identical result at the top two spots. For two searches I just conducted, the sponsored results were on the top, not mixed with other results, and it said "sponsored" in the line of display URL.

But the incentive search is totally out of my way of thinking, and I'm glad I turned off search partners long ago.
In industries that my campaigns are in - search partners were not converting anyway.
And even low conversion was not so much to make me do that cut, but rather a lack of transparency which cannot be explained easily.
I.e. why we can see where our ads are being served in content, but not on search side?

This system (S..B..) has been built around idea on monetizing on AdWords, but on the side other then advertiser, and it matches an affiliate building a 1-3 pages site which falls under bridge page definition - 100%.

That Sw..B.ck should be out of picture, even if it converts for some advertisers as it's opening the door for many other ideas that are shady just as this one.

Parasites...
1:55 pm on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"Without dropping any URLs, their name consists of a a slang term for stolen goods followed by a slang term for money."
BootyBooty?
Sorry couldn't hep mysef.

From what you've described, it sounds like they're living on borrowed time with G.
3:31 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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1
you mentioned points for searches but not points for clicks. Are they giving points for actually clicking on sponsored links? If not, it could be what actually keeps them off the chopping block.


Any search is likely eligible for "points" it appears. In fact, they "awarded" me a token point when I visited, even though I hadn't clicked any links, SERP or Sponsored. I doubt that "point" means anything unless I provide at least an email address to them. Probably just an enticement to show me how easy it is. Reminded me of a casino chit, sort of.

Since the points can be converted into gift cards for well-known merchants, they're probably making $$$ from those merchants (in addition to Sponsored Search clicks they garner along the way).

2
For two searches I just conducted, the sponsored results were on the top, not mixed with other results, and it said "sponsored" in the line of display URL.


Perhaps your searches only yield a couple of Sponsored results anyway, in which case it would be logical for them to place them on top.

When I searched terms that generally produce a page and a half of Sponsored Results, positions 1-2 were sponsored, then 7-9, then 13-16, then 18, etc.

For better or worse, as Adwords advertisers, we're paying for some positioning distinct from the SERPs so as to better grab eyeballs.

The "Sponsored By" states the ad is sponsored by "me" (my URL), not "Sponsored Results" or similar as most Search Partners are obliged to note. I don't condone this web portal or "ask" to be put on it. It's a subtle distinction, but I don't like the implied affiliation with this site. Google (or Ask) sponsored the ads, not me.

it's opening the door for many other ideas that are shady just as this one.


It's a slippery slope indeed....

3
they're living on borrowed time with G.


We can only hope.

Atun
2:38 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is not Google direct relationship, it is InfoSpace. I don't believe Google allows incentivized search per se but have heard that there are some agreements that are "grand fathered in." Infospace has had problems of late for its distribution of Google (search benedelman+infospace) so it is not inconceivable that this is not approved.

On one hand it seems logical that the user should share in some of the value of sponsored search but it definitely can lead to perverted search behavior. If the advertisers were only the GAN advertisers, and the searcher was rewarded for behavior that generated bona fide leads for advertisers, it would be a great model for everyone.
10:32 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Believe me there's a lot worse in the Search Partner Network than that Atun and that's bad. Quite a few sites make no mention of Google though all the returned results are strictly from Adwords. Check and see if you can even block your ads from being exposed. With quite a few you can't.