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Yahoo Considers Search Incentives

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-02-09

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While Yahoo isn't implementing Bill Gates suggestion that search engines should consider paying their users, Yahoo is thinking about giving some goodies to people who make Yahoo their primary search engine.

A survey distributed to Yahoo Mail users asked those recipients if they would consider using Yahoo Search regularly, and what kind of incentive would they like to receive for doing so.

CNet's Elinor Mills blogged about the proposal from Yahoo, which confirmed the program to her via one of its representatives:

"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."

However, the rewards won't make anyone think they are going to win Terry Semel's money. Yahoo Mail service upgrades, discounts on services like Yahoo Music Unlimited, and frequent flyer miles were listed among the survey choices.

The survey only hit a relatively small number of Yahoo Mail inboxes, Mills wrote, with only about five percent of their users receiving it. Yahoo did not have any further details about the survey results or a timetable for setting the plan in motion.

Some see this plan as a sign of desperation. Techdirt posted how the pay-for-search chatter by Yahoo and MSN overshadows the real issue:

Getting people to switch is not easy. It can't just be about catching up, or being marginally better -- but about being so overwhelmingly better that people can't afford not to switch.

Nathan Weinberg blogged about the proposal, and said the best incentive seemed to be the Netflix discount of $7 per month. But he thought of an even better incentive - money:

Why not pay bloggers to switch for a year? No requirements, just switch. Given that most bloggers would blog it extensively, reviewing the search engine, learning its eccentricities, and hopefully giving it a fair shake they might not otherwise, now that would be worth the money spent.


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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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