“If at first you do not succeed, try and buy your market share.” Okay, admittedly this is a bad example of the mantra I am trying to get across but it does fairly represent the enticements a couple of search engines are using to attract users; Blingo and AGLOCO.

1) Blingo: Owned by The Publisher’s Clearing House, the search engine Blingo is randomly giving away prizes to those who search on their site. They have even made it viral by providing a duplicate prize to the person who referred the winner.

2) AGLOCO (link removed, site no longer exists): The core concept of this search engine is that it is a co-operative. Users who sign up and use its proprietary “Viewbar” to search the net will get paid per hour and will be treated like a shareholder by getting a chunk of the company’s profits. Members will also get paid for referrals to friends; the crucial viral marketing method. This is not a new concept, in fact AGLOCO was created by a couple founders of the similar but long dead AllAdvantage search company. Apparently the founders that started AGLOCO feel there is a better chance the second time around.

So why the title “… Advertisers Beware!”?
Each of these search properties are built on the basis of making money off you, their advertiser. In fact, that is their entire business model – attract the users and the advertisers will have no choice but to come and pay well for visibility. My concern is that users who sign up to get paid to search may not be the target market for the average advertiser. After all, logically some of these users are on the search engine just to make an easy buck and are not necessarily interested in serious searching. Lower quality viewers aside, there is bound to be a market here worth tagging but I expect advertising on any of these properties should be carefully thought through before proceeding.

If you do decide to go ahead and advertise on these two sites (or any others like them) I strongly recommend setting up unique landing pages for each search engine and monitoring the average time for each visit using your traffic statistics. If you find a very low conversion rate and that the majority of users stay a very short time (less than 5 seconds) you had better turn tail and run – unless the cost of advertising is so low it doesn’t matter.