Now Yahoo's Trying A Search Engine Bribery Loyalty Program
from the incentives-everywhere dept
A couple months ago, Bill Gates got all sorts of attention for randomly musing that maybe Microsoft would start paying people to use its search engine. It was pretty clear that it wasn’t an actual program in place, but just a thought. Later that month, Amazon’s struggling A9 search engine began experimenting with a similar program, which few people noticed, because… well… few people notice A9. It would appear that the folks over at Yahoo have been toying with a similar idea, as they’re quietly testing the idea of a program to reward users who make Yahoo their primary search engine. It wouldn’t be payments in cash, but various rewards — like standard loyalty programs. Users would have to use a special search page to prove they were regularly using Yahoo — and the more they used Yahoo, the more they’d get in rewards. So, with all three of these companies talking about bribery as a method to steal users away from Google, it becomes increasingly clear just how “sticky” (argh, buzzword) Google really has become. 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. Or, failing that, it’s good enough and it has kickbacks. Of course, as we noted when Gates made his suggestion, all of these “we’ll pay you” type programs opens themselves up to serious gaming from scammers who will figure out a way to trick the system to their own advantage. In many ways, managing that level of “search fraud” may end up being a lot more costly than these companies expect.