I get kicks out of seeing Arrington over at TechCrunch always trashing PayPerPost, a new startup that is based on providing an advertising platform that unites bloggers and advertisers. You can read my review of it here.
Anyway, as I was reading this Wired article on How Yahoo! Blew It has really screwed things up, the following paragraphs stood out:
At the time, the idea seemed radical, even offensive. Who would want results driven by hordes of sellers hawking goods and services? Advertisers would, as it turned out. Although GoTo never became a top-tier search destination, Gross and CEO Ted Meisel quickly saw that the big Web portals and search engines like AltaVista, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN would pay big money for GoTo’s auction-driven results. They changed the name to Overture in 2001, and by the end of that year Web surfers had clicked on Overture ads 1.4 billion times. Advertisers understood the value of being able to bid for juicy keywords. The ads would be laser targeted, and the results — clicks — could be measured precisely. The portals and search sites figured out that the sponsored links could be placed alongside a more objective set of search results. It was a brilliant way to turn searches into revenue.
Google saw the power of this approach and decided to grow its own. Engineers at Google took the concept of pay-per-click search results and in 2002 turned it into a smooth-running, money-printing machine called AdWords. The company developed an automated process for advertisers to bid on keywords. It also made the auctions more sophisticated so customers couldn’t game the system. Crucially, Google determined ad prominence on a Web page not just by the price advertisers were willing to pay per click — as Overture had done — but also based on how many clickthroughs that ad generated. As a result, Google’s system responded quickly to ineffective ads: They disappeared. Google also had a massive database that tracked which ads worked and which didn’t, information it could pass on to its customers to help them create better ad campaigns. By the time Google published its financial statements for the first time in 2004, everyone knew that the company had harnessed one of the great innovations of the Internet age
Initially, paid advertising on search engines was very controversial. Can we draw any correlation to this new marketing bridge that PayPerPost is leading? Does it matter that the old guard and the establishment doesn’t like it? Not really. In the end, the market will decide. If it works for advertisers, it will be a huge success.
PayPerPost might not be the winner, just as Overture wasn’t. That isn’t what is at issue, it’s whether or not this type of a platform has a future.