Seeking Out Alternative Search Engines

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NEW YORK -- What's hot in search? Some might argue 'ABG': anything but Google.

"Extending Search Reach Through Specialty Engines," an Online Media, Marketing & Advertising Conference and Expo panel devoted to mainstream search alternatives explored topics like click fraud, lead generation and vertical search models.

"One of our key focuses now is becoming more vertically specific," said Chrysi Philalithes, vice president of global marketing and communications at Miva Media.

Ms. Philalithes said that by segmenting Miva's network the company sought richer branding opportunities while compromising a broader reach.

Chris Hulse at Business.com agreed saying that all search was vertical in nature because the user knows what they are looking for in vertical terms. His company is not seeking to acquire more reach but instead ensure more reliable leads.

"Vertical search is a quality play versus a quantity play," Mr. Hulse said.

On the subject of click fraud, panelists agreed the industrywide mischarges were inevitable.

"Even 1 percent is too high," Ms. Philalithes said. "Click fraud is a part of this industry. What matters is how people react and respond to it."

Mr. Hulse said his company believed negative experiences with search, primarily click fraud charges, would deter repeat advertisers, something a smaller search engine could not afford as compared to Google.

Zango CEO Keith Smith, whose company works in adware and not traditional keyword search, had a different opinion on click fraud's impact.

"Click fraud doesn't matter as long as your ROI is still there," Mr. Smith said. "I say that as an advertiser and not as a search platform."

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