Could Good Search Kill The Paid Search Business Model?

from the marketing-FUD? dept

A Microsoft researcher made some interesting comments today that seem to have upset others in the search space. He suggested that building a good search tool isn’t really all that difficult, and that will turn it into a commodity. Much more importantly, though, he suggests that it won’t be that long until search technology gets so good that it destroys its own business model. If search tools can correctly find the most relevant results right away, the theory goes, then there shouldn’t be a need for people to buy advertising slots, since they’ll be consistently less relevant than the search results. Both of these may not be as worrisome as he makes them out to be. There’s plenty to suggest that building a really good search tool is fairly difficult. Also, even in a world where search results are very good, it’s not hard to see how advertising might fit as well, even if it’s only for associated, as opposed to direct, products (for example, on a search for hotels get ads about rental cars and airfare). Even in the case when it’s for direct products, the ads can be useful, in presenting more information for the person surfing. Still, it is interesting to think about how better and better search tools may present a threat to the whole concept of paid search. Of course, part of this does just seem like typical Microsoft FUD, trying to make a big market they’re attacking seem smaller, so they don’t have to deal with pesky upstarts. They’ve certainly done it before.

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