Commercialising Search

Precursor to Google business model.

During the late 90’s boom, serial entrepreneur Bill Gross set up a multitude of companies including Overture which was the first to successfully launch a keyword based advertising model. Advertisers would pay a small fee, typically a few cents each time their ad was clicked on.

Initially, Google were wary of incorporating advertising in to their search results for fear of compromising the objectivity of the results. 1 If a company could “buy” the 1st page hit, whether relevant or not then users would cease to trust the results.

Overture had no such qualms and the highest bidder got the highest rank.

The need to generate revenue.

Bryn & Page’s determination to keep search objective and free of advertising influence was being pressured with the need to start generate sufficient revenue.

Google launched AdWords in 2000, based on the Overture model of pay per click advertising but with distinctions: advertisers could not buy their way to the top and paid for, and organic searches would be separated.

Sponsored links would appear above or to the right of organic results. These ads themselves would be ranked by their relevance and popularity. If Company A pays £1 per click, and Company B £2 per click but Company A consistently has more click throughs then, over time it will likely appear higher up despite paying less.

Bryn & Page’s determination to incorporate paid for advertising while keeping it’s search results objective and relevant were ultimately successful.

This led to Google growth go from 0 to $22 billion in 10 years.2

1. STROSS, E.R. Planet Google : one company's audacious plan to organize everything we know. New York : Free Press, 2008
2. INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL ADVISORS [online] [cited 8 December 2009] Want to Grow Like Google?…Build A Knowledge Factory <>
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