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Is There A Personal CPM For Search?

Playing with Fire album coverK-Fed via Wikipedia

Here’s today’s MediaPost Search Insider:
Can a bounty for search engine users translate to a personal CPM?
This question follows MediaPost’s OMMA Social event (catch the complete coverage) where  a panel discussed the concept of the personal CPM,
when brands put a value on consumers who spread marketing messages. In
social media, the concept works perfectly, as consumers can become part
of the advertising, whether in an ad through networks that target the
social graph, or by consumers alerting friends about their brand
With search, it’s different. Your search
activities are not broadcast to all your friends, and if they are, you
probably want to switch search engines. Yet there are a number of
examples of bounties for searchers that indicate the personal CPM can
apply. We’ll look at four today: Live Search Cashback, Yahoo Canada’s
Air Miles partnership, the MouseHunt toolbar, and Prodege’s Swagbucks.
Live Search Cashback
The best documented of the four examples, Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback
lists discounts from retailers that can be sorted by the size of a cash
refund or the overall lowest price. In practice, it’s hardly different
from other forms of comparison shopping: shoppers evaluate retailers on
a sliding scale of the lowest priced item by the most trusted marketer.
This is the only example here where the value of the searcher is
dependent on how much he or she spends.
Microsoft also offers rewards for repeat usage of its  SearchPerks Perk Counter toolbar,
which treats search like a carnival: more searches lead to more
tickets, which can be redeemed for real-world goods of varying value.
The program’s registration filled up with one million registrants, and
it’s slated to end in April. Toolbars are popular ways to reward
searchers, as we’ll see from the next two examples. Meanwhile, expect
Microsoft to keep leading the search industry in made-up compound
words. A few suggestions: SearchRewards, WindowsBucks, or
Yahoo Canada Air Miles
Courtesy of one of my favorite blogs, Three Minds at Organic, comes the story of  Yahoo Canada launching the Air Miles Yahoo Toolbar.
Enter 50 queries and you get five Air Miles, up to 30 miles monthly. Is
this enough to get people to use the Yahoo Toolbar? You need to run 300
searches just to get those 30 miles. I tried the reward calculator,
and it takes 1,175 to 1,450 reward miles to fly round-trip from
Montreal to New York, which can be earned over 39 to 48 months. That
means up to four years of running 300 queries a month on the toolbar,
totaling 14,500 searches. There must be easier ways to travel, like Twitter hitchhiking (or Twitchhiking) around the globe.
Some things have inexplicable appeal, like Howie Mandel, or the nougat in a 3 Musketeers bar. Add to that list the  Facebook application MouseHunt, which for me has been the most persistently addictive app I’ve tried.
MouseHunt recently launched a toolbar, where hunters (as we app players
call ourselves) earn the especially potent mouse bait called Super
Brie+, with three searches yielding one piece and the opportunity to
earn three pieces daily; search results come from Yahoo. Players can
also earn Super Brie+ by donating to MouseHunt, completing offers, or
buying it on the game-hosted black market for virtual gold. MouseHunt’s
toolbar makes it easy to earn a substantial amount of Super Brie+
monthly. For addicted players, this definitely has the potential to
change their search behavior.
Prodege Swagbucks
What do the New York Giants, Snoop Dogg, and Barry Manilow have in
common? I’m sure there’s a great punchline in there somewhere (try your
own in the comments), but the one link I’m aware of is that all have
branded search engines through Prodege’s Swagbucks.com. I’ve talked about Prodge before,   and in several presentations I’ve included screenshots of its  Kevin Federline search engine.
To be fully transparent, the swag helped sell me; an autographed photo
of K-Fed hangs prominently above my desk. Through Prodege, any query on
a branded engine gives the searcher a chance to win Swag Bucks that can
be redeemed for prizes from autographs to iPhones. For some reason, an
iPhone is worth 84 times a signed K-Fed photo; it should be the other
way around.
So, what’s your pleasure? Cash, miles, virtual
cheese, pseudo-celebrity autographs? The challenge for search engines
is trying to change behavior; it’s telling that there’s no comparable
example from Google. It’s hardly surprising that so many businesses are
trying to quantify the value of increased search usage and will reward
consumers accordingly. This economy presents the best time to up the
ante. The first search engine to reward searchers with contributions to
mortgage and credit card payments may be the recession’s best shot at a

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Comments to: Is There A Personal CPM For Search?
  • Avatar
    February 11, 2009

    Just came across your article and saw the mention of Swagbucks. We’ve been using this site for several months now and have also written about it. Feel free to check out our post (linked in my name above)!


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