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E-Business Secrets

LookSmart upsets the apple cart with new charges
Mid-stream changes rile customers who paid 'one-time flat rate'

By  Brian Livingston April 29, 2002  

LONDON -- I traveled to the United Kingdom to dig up e-business secrets for you at Search Engine Strategies, an international conference sponsored by Search Engine Watch on ways sites can attract more traffic from Web surfers. Search Engine Watch provides tips on searching the Web and information on the search engine industry.


One of the most interesting stories wasn't posted as a topic of any of the several workshops. Instead, a huge amount of buzz was generated by LookSmart's recent decision to switch from a paid-inclusion model to a pay-per-click model.

Sometime in April, LookSmart decided to start charging sites listed in its index a flat fee of 15 cents for every person who clicked a listing, with a minimum of $15 per month. The change, called LookListings Small Business, is being phased in, with previously listed sites qualifying for $15 worth of free clickthroughs. But many Web site owners feel short-changed nonetheless.

"My company paid LookSmart to be included in their directory years ago, and we were promised that we had to pay a one-time flat fee," says an anonymous source who was quoted by Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, in a private article available only to his subscribers. "It seems like LookSmart is breaking its promise and forcing all its past customers to move to its new business model without our due consent," this source continued.

In his analysis, Sullivan notes that a private business can charge whatever it wants for its services. He also quotes LookSmart's original agreement, which permits it to change the terms at any time.

LookSmart bills itself as the world's most widely distributed search directory, with its search results feeding into MSN.com, AltaVista, Netscape Netcenter, CNET's Search.com, and many others. The biggest question for surfers is whether the editorial quality of LookSmart isn't hopelessly skewed by the new pay-per-click requirement. Many valuable Web sites can't justify paying 15 cents for every single visit that comes along. (LookSmart continues to allow noncommercial sites to be listed free through its Zeal.com volunteer directory.)

"The company is effectively delisting listings without editorial review," says Sullivan in his subscriber communication. "That has a serious impact on the relevancy of LookSmart."

LookSmart officials did not return by press time phone calls seeking comment.

By comparison, when Yahoo.com began charging an annual fee for inclusion at the end of last year, it imposed the fee only for new submissions. All existing listings were retained without a fee being required.

"When a small business pays by the click for the leads they receive, they take an active interest in making sure their listing is accurate and the information is up-to-date," said LookSmart COO Jason Kellerman in a statement on LookSmart's site. "LookListings Small Business lets us align the interests of the advertiser with those of the user, creating a rewarding search experience."

A short description of the situation is available at the Search Engine Watch site (see link below). Sullivan promises that he'll post a longer public analysis at the site on May 6.


http://www.sewatch.com http://bri.li/?4e59


http://www.shareholder.com http://bri.li/?61e1

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I've previously written in my separate Window Manager column about the coming war between Microsoft's Smart Phone software and the competing Symbian operating system being used by the major cell phone manufacturers: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, and others.

Now a stunning opinion contrasting Sony Ericsson's new P800 smart phone against the competing Handspring Treo has emerged. The Register's Andrew Orlowski says, "Although the Treo and the P800 are functionally similar, our first impressions of the new Ericsonny device leave the Treo looking like Dilbert's secret Elbonian recipe for mud."

The P800 is being introduced this summer as a "world phone" that works on the different frequencies found in both the United Sates and Europe. Although I don't have street prices yet, the device is likely to be expensive as a cell phone but cheap compared with buying and carrying around a laptop just to check e-mail and surf the Web.


http://www.theregister.co.uk http://bri.li/?7569



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1. Gates tried to buy Nintendo to boost Xbox, book says

http://www.gamers.com http://bri.li/?421

2. How the recovery translates into e-commerce sales

http://boston.internet.com http://bri.li/?809

3. Used book sales at Amazon net more than store sales?

http://www.siliconvalley.com http://bri.li/?bf1

4. Economics of domain names is hurt as numbers decline

http://www.wired.com http://bri.li/?fd9

5. "Privacy" bill would protect functioning of spyware

http://www.salon.com http://bri.li/?13c1

6. Hotmail cookies make hacking into your account easy

http://www.wired.com http://bri.li/?17a9

7. Intriguing new Mozilla browser to be released soon

http://www.time.com http://bri.li/?1b91

8. Revolution in Web-logging software is in development

http://www.cti.dtu.dk http://bri.li/?1f79

9. XML tips: Why SOAP is a bad choice for Google's API

http://www.xml.com http://bri.li/?2361

10. Don't bet on it: Net gambling craps out in court

http://www.onlinecasinonews.com http://bri.li/?2749

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In the latest of a series that could be called "a total waste of valuable CPU cycles," Antcity offers you a chance to use (and abuse) a giant magnifying glass that has somehow been misplaced by the world's strangest museum.

With this magnifier in hand, you look down upon a realistically rendered city scene. People walking on the sidewalks, crossing the streets, and otherwise going about their business look like, well, ants.

Hold down your left mouse button and the sun's rays are focused on the scene below. Oh, no! You've cooked a pedestrian and he's burst into flames! You'd better be more careful with those cars and helicopters cruising by below you. And, look, there's an oil tanker truck ...

It's another twisted, free service from Bossmonster, the Flash game developers.


http://www.bossmonster.com http://bri.li/?c389

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld Contributing Editor Brian Livingston (http://SecretsPro.com). Research director is Ben Livingston (no relation). Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets:

http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets:

http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534130

Win a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. Mail to:Brian@SecretsPro.com

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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