Yahoo Contemplating Incentivizing Search

8 comments

It's a bit confusing since they announced they were throwing in the towel, but Yahoo is apparently contemplating incentivizing users to search. News.com reports that Yahoo recently sent an email to 5% of their email base asking them what they would want in exchange for making Yahoo their primary search engine. From the email:

Yahoo is considering launching a program to reward people who make Yahoo their primary search engine. Yahoo Mail users will be given early access to this program. You will receive a monthly reward if you make Yahoo your primary search engine. This means that most of the searching you do each month must be on Yahoo Search.

The incentives are primarily discounts for Yahoo products and services. The full list of incentives offered is in the News.com article.

Umair Haque at BubbleGeneration thinks the idea is close, but needs some tweaking. He writes:

Don't pay people to use search - pay people to help improve Yahoo search. Give anyone a tiny micropayment for a tiny contribution to Y search. Leverage the massively distributed specialization of the edge to improve/filter/rank results.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Will it work?

Comments

>> Don't pay people to use

>> Don't pay people to use search - pay people to help improve
>> Yahoo search. Give anyone a tiny micropayment for a tiny
>> contribution to Y search.

So, you'd be paying spammers to skew the results then? I say thumbs down on this one...

Wrong dream, Umair...

Don't pay people to use search - pay people to help improve Yahoo search. Give anyone a tiny micropayment for a tiny contribution to Y search. Leverage the massively distributed specialization of the edge to improve/filter/rank results.

And who decides who gets to edit the listings? The bigger problem is that the great majority of people who would actually edit the listings would be marketers. It opens up a whole new portal of abuse when the existing ones aren't even near closed.

Of course that's the great conundrum of Web 2.0 -- the only people who can contribute data of real value have neither the means nor the desire to do so.

It opens up a whole new

It opens up a whole new portal of abuse when the existing ones aren't even near closed.

agreed on that one. you'd end up raising editing costs, which would probably nullify if not outweigh any improvement advice. plus, the best feedback comes from when you listen -- i.e. look at stats like clickthroughs, search queries, tagging, etc. to see how your product is being used.

i like the idea of incentivizing searches though. the search market has inflated margins, so they're definitely going to get commoditized at some point. and yahoo's strategy of giving incentives that feed its other value chains (i.e. discounts on yahoo music) is awesome IMO -- sets the stage for a points/currency system, which i think will be an awesome viral tactic.

I think paying people does

I think paying people does not make them feel like Yahoo! is THEIR search engine.

Far better marketing available and IMHO this one is lame.

In days gone by

search engines like Overture, FindWhat, and Kanoodle all paid their users to click. Yes, PPC search (long ago) was itself incentivized. Today it's referred to as click fraud. So here we have Yahoo saying that they want to pay people to "search". How is that different from paying them to click too? We all know that the vast majority of searchers don't have a freaking clue what a "Sponsored Result" is.

Isn't this just an indirect route of creating clicks with less overall value and that could be construed by some as not necessarialy fraudulent, but at least questionable? What do you guys think? I'm interested to hear opinions on that.

Quick fix

Like Aaron, this sounds like a quick fix. I think it could be okay for awhile to get a certain segment of people to try Yahoo search, but I don't think Yahoo has really exhausted all the marketing opportunities for search that are out there. Seems to me they are leaving a lot of opportunities on the table.

Maybe try

giving their engineers the incentives (yay, Y! music) to improve the quality of the results. They'd end up killing two birds with one incentive.

jeremy zawodny

jeremy zawodny responds:

when you're in a commodity business, you need to offer people a reason to choose you and stick with your service. They need something that helps to break the tie in their head. Choosing between two or more nearly indistinguishable services is always hard.

You might not think that web search is a commodity service, but I've seen public and private data that suggests we're headed that way. It was only a matter of time, right?

Does that mean there won't be other differentiating features? Of course not. But the core services are pretty darn similar today, aren't they?

Some people fly American because they offer more room in coach. But those frequent flier miles don't hurt either.

i dont know which side i'm on anymore.

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