3.03.2007

Social search democratizing revenue share models

There is a shift taking place from pure algorithmic search to social search. The explosion of consumer generated media (CGM), the emergence of social search and the rise of the Net's culture of participation will eventually force a democratization of the Web's economics. There is a shift taking place from few with the power to users getting empowered. Content generating users (i.e. traffic, eye balls) will increasingly share the wealth. The Web is slowly but surely leveling the playing field for the rest of us in the tail.

Chris Sherman from Search Engine Land, defines social Search as way finding tools informed by human judgment. Social search is people helping people find stuff. Social search includes i) Questions & Answers services like Yahoo! Answers, MSN Live QnA, Amazon's AskVille, Yedda, Answerbags and others, ii) Collaborative directory building for users to submit, share, tag content, comment, including community ranking, recommendations, profiles, ... and iii) many hybrids.

More and more personal blogs, MySpace profiles, and other communities display advertising and widgets wrapped around revenue share models. Google AdSense is probrably the most deployed of these and YouTube announced a revenue sharing program as well. Bill Gates himself discussed rewarding users for searching. Content generating users are increasingly part of the economics.

Eurekster is one of the most interesting social search engines for applying collborative filtering principles to search results ranking before most. Actually, DirectHit - eventually aquired by Ask - might have done popularity ranking before. And who knows when Google and Yahoo! integrated some level of behavioral feedback into their respective ranking algorithms.

Eurekster has been getting quiet some buzz in the past months. The following chart comes from BlogPulse, monitoring online buzz, and the following one comes from Alexa, measuring traffic rank trends.



According to Eurekster, a swicki is new kind of search engine that allows anyone to create deep, focused searches on topics you care about. This search engine, or swicki, can be published on your site. (like on the right side of this blog >>). Your swicki presents search results that you're interested in, pulls in new relevant information as it is indexed, and organizes everything for you in a neat little customizable widget you can put on your web site or blog, complete with its very own buzz cloud that constantly updates to show you what are hot search terms in your community.


Eurekster goes a significant step further, suggesting the actual economic value of swicky communities users create. Eurekster estimates that some swickis could actually generate up to $30,000 a year in revenue to their owner, and be worth up to $300,000 if a buyer used typical methods for valuation. Community "owners" can include up to 3 ad units to be displayed at the top and on the side of the swicki pages. There is also a choice of multiple feeds including AdSense and others. Swicki owners then get credited 50% of the ad impressions and clicks, the balance being credited to Eurekster. You can even simulate the micro-business model with this tool.

Please, please, please, visit the "social search engines" swicky.

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