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Bill Gross Returns In A Snap

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-15

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The man who is probably most responsible for Yahoo's and Google's advertising success has revamped his search site to mingle sponsored and organic results together.

GoTo.com inventor Bill Gross, whose site became Overture and later a part of Yahoo, has a reworked Snap.com online for users to try.

Unlike other search engines that break paid search results into separate sections, Snap includes them with the organic results. Those results that are paid have the words "Sponsored Result" next to them in orange letters.

Snap tries to anticipate the query the user wants to make by suggesting potential queries based on what the user types in the search box. It works similar to Instant Search from Yahoo, but seemed to be working very slowly when we tested it.

Search results appear on the left side of the screen, and clicking on a result brings up a snapshot of the homepage for that result. From there the user can continue to that page, or scroll further through the results for other results.

The Washington Times noted a complaint from Ralph Nader's Commercial Alert office about Snap's sponsored result labels:

The label isn't prominent enough to satisfy Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a Ralph Nader-based watchdog group behind a 2001 complaint that prompted the FTC to issue its search-engine advertising guidelines.

Snap's new system for identifying ads "is neither clear nor conspicuous," Mr. Ruskin said. "It is completely inadequate."

Pasadena-based Snap says its new approach makes sense because the Web sites run by advertisers sometimes provide the information or merchandise most likely to satisfy a user's search request.

"It might take a few years for it to catch on, but we think we are establishing a new paradigm for search," Gross said in the report. They have a lot of room to move up, as figures from Nielsen//NetRatings show only about 700,000 monthly users for Snap.

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

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