Letters About LookSmart's Cost-Per-Click Change

Below is a sampling of letters received by Search Engine Watch relating to the change by LookSmart to cost-per-click pricing. More about the change can be found in the LookSmart Changes To Cost-Per-Click Listings article.

"I filled out the request that LookSmart update my title and description and added some keywords, and they took it. This may be an effort on their part to keep us happy through this transition. I wrote a description that clearly wouldn't have passed editorial standards 3 weeks ago....they let me put the words [omitted” in my description twice and in my title...no way would they have let me get away with that before." -- CN

"I am a small business owner and have been advertising on LookSmart for 2 years now. LookSmart used to be a great marketing opportunity for small advertisers like myself, but for the past year they changed their directory submission prices 3 times! Always trying to come up with new ways to increase the cost to advertise. The latest switch in April to pay per click service is absolutely insane! Since I have been a LookSmart advertiser before they announced their "new small business listing service," they automatically transferred 12 of my listings into their new member account center and started to charge me $0.15 cents a click per site. Since my sites were getting decent traffic that turned into $200 a day! That's more than I make. Basically, I am out of business. It's not good enough, that I already spent thousands of dollars with the LookSmart Express Submit service, but now, if I want to keep my listings, I have to pay for them all over again! Thanks a lot, LookSmart, thanks for your customer appreciation!" --SW

"We've been listed with them for a while, and they have given us monthly credit for their site. But honestly, we feel that their new policy is abusive. Today I got a notice that they were suspending our account at 1am this morning because we exceeded our limit for the month. Seems to be a heavy handed approach to take during the first month of the process. I hope people boycott LookSmart in the future as this is going to become way too costly for us to maintain a listing with them as I'm sure for many other companies as well." --AD

"I really feel like LookSmart has basically lied to me and made me look bad in front of my clients. Now I have to go explain to them what I don't exactly understand myself. I just wish there was a way (besides a single email) to let them know how terrible a decision they're making. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit." --RB

"One of my clients (forced conversion to new program) was asked to raise their monthly budget to $120! We used up our $15 in clicks in 5 days. This is ridiculous. We paid on March 1, 2002, only to have the program change a month later." --DM

"Like most people, I got the same letter from LookSmart. Haven't been bumped off yet, but I can sure say I can't afford to pony up the 15 cents per click. Anyone can click on your site, obviously even without the intention to buy. People SURF the net, that is what they do. I'm sure the general public has no clue when they go to MSN they just spent 15 cents of someone else's money every time they want to view a site. People shop around, so maybe after visiting seven sites looking for the best prices and the right items, they've blown over one dollar of someone else's ad budget. Moreover, you need to be very specific with your new link listings. I used to draw people to my site because I had ideas on throwing parties, usually to promote my party supplies. I'm sure not going to promote my ideas in LookSmart Small Business Listings just so I can pay 15 cents for everyone who wants to know how to throw a fiesta party." --PM

"As a LookSmart customer who recently paid to get listed and then was told of their new policy, I am outraged...I am seriously considering a class action lawsuit about this," --MH

"I want to know if their is an organization with whom I can lodge a complaint regarding LookSmart's change. When we first signed up and paid our $199, LookSmart stated their would be no additional charges. This March, we paid an additional $199 to update our description. Now, they are changing to $0.15 per click. They recommend we set our budget at $2,400 per month. Well, we only do $1,500 to $2,500 per month in gross sales! They are putting us out of business, since a large portion of our customers use MSN search. In addition, what is to keep our competitors from clicking through to our site numerous times to use up our budget?" --RK

Editor's Note: There's no formal organization charged with regulating search engines, but you could complain to any organization that deals with business practices. Many people have also been asking if there's a lawsuit filed against LookSmart. So far, one hasn't been.

"I might have shrugged the whole changeover off if it hadn't been for the strong arm tactics they are employing. I have since joined some boards where I'm finding others that feel the same way I do and this has the feel of a potential revolt. There seems to be a growing list of 'valued customers' that paid LookSmart (in full; not over 20 months) as recently as two months ago for listings or modification and they are as livid as I am. I may ride this thing out and not cave as I have number one position with Yahoo and Google for my most important keywords...I'm encouraging others on these boards to do the same. I do want to be clear about my position on this: I don't begrudge them making a business model change, but I take exception to how they have made the change and the tactics they are using to convert people into a significantly inferior value exchange." --SE

"I got a notification of the change, and credit for 100 clicks per month for 20 months, which I thought fair. Mine were used up quickly last month, so thought to see what the effect would be on traffic and search results. My WebTrends report shows a slight but non-significant improvement in traffic. I am still getting good results on MSN, etc, due to Inktomi paid URLs, which is where most of my (non-Google, non-Yahoo) search results come from. In fact, I see that the searches are still returning my LookSmart listing where appropriate. Of course, most results (as I am sure is true for most people) come from my good positions on Google. I cannot understand what some of the people writing in about the LookSmart change meant by "now we are out of business" or words to that effect. I am thinking LookSmart may not even be all that relevant. I always survey people about how they search, and an informal tally shows that over 90% use Google and/or Yahoo." --EL (May 6, 2002)