NOTE UPDATE AT END OF THIS PAGE
In the next few weeks, LookSmart expects to unveil a new "LookListings" program to the general public that will give the company the ability to sell paid placement listings -- rather than paid inclusion -- for the first time.
LookSmart has operated a widely-available paid inclusion program since September of last year. However, paid inclusion can be a harder sell than paid placement, where the money you spend actually guarantees a prominent position. In contrast, paid inclusion only guarantees that you will be listed, not that you will rank well for particular terms, though you probably will see an overall traffic rise.
LookListings aims to make LookSmart's paid inclusion program more attractive to advertisers. In it, advertisers who want to appear at the top of LookSmart's results for certain terms will appear there, guaranteed. Currently, three paid links are planned to appear in a "Featured Listings" area. In addition, if all the slots haven't been sold, then anyone with paid inclusion listings might appear in this area, even though they didn't explicitly pay for placement.
The changes would happen on LookSmart's site plus other sites that rebrand LookSmart's results for their own use. These include a wide number of ISPs, such as Prodigy. The changes would not happen at LookSmart-partner MSN Search, however. This is because MSN Search uses its own ranking algorithm to sort through LookSmart, Inktomi and editor-compiled data to produce its own unique results.
Pricing is still being determined, but the initial idea is that advertisers would agree to purchase "buckets" of words and phrases they want to appear for and pay a flat rate per click (well below US $1, LookSmart says) for traffic received for any of these words. They would be entitled to appear highly ranked for these terms over a set period of time, rather than be liable to losing their position in bidding systems as used by GoTo. However, cost per impression pricing is also being considered.
I hope to take a closer look at the program in the next issue, assuming it is ready to go live and open to the general public. It is currently operating in beta, with selected LookSmart advertisers having been invited to participate.
Paid Inclusion At Search Engines Gains Ground
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 3, 2001
More about LookSmart's existing paid inclusion program can be found here.
An example of how an ISP makes use of LookSmart's results can be seen here.
LookListings Go Live
The LookListings program I wrote about last issue for LookSmart has now gone live. If you are an existing Subsites customer, you will be rolled into the new program and apparently told how to take out contracts on search terms of interest. LookSmart says new customers can also get started with the program now, though nothing is mentioned about it on the LookSmart site. My advice would be to use the Subsites contact page, below.
LookSmart Subsites Program