Last month, the head of Terra Lycos in the United States told Reuters that the company was looking to diversify its revenue stream by charging for subscription services, including search.
Is it really true? Will Terra Lycos be the first major company to try to charge for search since Infoseek's failed experiment with the model, back in 1995?
Nope, it's not true, at least from a searcher's perspective. What Terra Lycos means by search "subscriptions" are really services aimed at the web site owner market.
"The initial services are going to be targeted at the web site owner. They will not be paying for search results but more services that a web site owner would want to utilize," said Bryan Burdick, vice president of portal services for Terra Lycos.
Burdick wouldn't say specifically what these services will be, but did say they'd be in line with what some other search engines have offered site owners. A paid inclusion program seems a likely offering.
But what about consumer search subscriptions? Might that also happen? Not likely, says Terra Lycos:
"We have no immediate plans to have consumer-oriented subscriptions," Burdick said. "It would be pretty difficult for anyone out there to start charging for their existing search results set," he explained. "There's really not much you have invested as user."
By the way, last month I praised Lycos for finally clearly labeling the paid listings it carries as "Sponsored Search Listings." Sadly, not three weeks later, the company was back to its old habits, calling them "Featured Listings" and now "Products & Services."
Terra Lycos Says Exploring Paid Services
Reuters, Nov. 8, 2001
Original article where subscription search and other services from Terra Lycos are mentioned.
How Yahoo Will Make You Pay
TheStreet.com, Nov. 23, 2001
A look at how Terra Lycos-competitor Yahoo may try to get users to pay for services through its access partnership with SBC Communications.
Time For The Search Dividend?
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2001
Some previous comments from me on the idea of search subscriptions.