Gator takes bite out of search engines


15/01/2003

The Gator online advertising network is testing a new paid search product that lets rivals poach on each other’s territory in one of the Net’s hottest new marketing venues. Search Scout, launched in December, triggers a pop-under window when Gator members search on a site such as Google and Yahoo. The window lists search results tied to keywords purchased through competing search services.

A small “info” tag on the results says they originate from “top search engines.” During the test phase, Gator is using results from paid search kingpin Overture Services, Terra Lycos and FindWhat.com.

Like previous products from Gator, Search Scout allows advertisers to reach members of the Gator network when they are visiting competitors’ sites–a feature that has already drawn lawsuits in the context of banner and pop-up advertising.

“This is a hot topic because there are a lot of people opposed to pop-ups and pop-unders,” said Craig A. Pisaris-Henderson, CEO of FindWhat. “This could be perceived as taking away revenue from the requested site. On the other hand, advertisers are loving and demanding that you get this traffic.”

Gator did not return phone calls or e-mail requesting comment for this story.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Gator delivers pop-up and pop-under ads to millions of people who presumably agree to receive ads in exchange for use of its online wallet software, which keeps track of passwords and shopping data for multiple sites. Gator says it has about 25 million active users of the software, with about 500 advertisers targeting messages to those people, often at times when they’re visiting rival sites. (segue)

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