Here’s a shocker – Search engines are businesses that require profits to continue operating.


To anyone more than a year out of college, that’s not much of a surprise. Those of us who have been working in the business world for a while understand the basic tenet of survival – to keep the doors open, a business must make more money than it spends. But some academics – you know, those folks who peered out into the real world for a week or two and then retreated behind the relative safety of the ivy – have been casting stones at search engines, demanding an explanation for this heinous behavior. So sayeth these sage media researchers, how dare Google and the rest poison the perfection of the World Wide Web with consumerism!


Simple reply: If they don’t, Google go bye-bye.


Google and other search engines initially started out with a business model that leaned heavily on banner advertisements. While the Web experts were busy cataloguing and ranking the world’s trillions of Web sites, the money side was trying to sell skyscrapers and banners to businesses interested in reaching the exploding variety and depth of demographics rushing to the Web to find everything from stock tips to celebrity gossip. Unfortunately, no one was buying. Then communications experts discovered Web surfers rarely click past the first page of search results. Businesses quickly realized there is a very real economic advantage to being listed first; simultaneously, search engines realized there was money to be made in guaranteeing top billing. Google, MSN, Alta Vista and the rest began selling businesses the chance to be listed first for a particular key word search.


Critics moaned the public was being duped into thinking the top search results were “organic,” techno-jargon for unpaid, when in fact the top listings had been purchased. Google and others bent a little and agreed to mark the paid listings as “sponsored.”


Now some are crying foul again, claiming the current system unfairly excludes small businesses and limits online competition. NEWS FLASH – the largest and wealthiest companies have always and will always maintain a clear edge in reaching out to consumers through existing and emerging media. The hippie-esque notion that the Web would be any different died the minute mainstream consumers started logging on.


Final Bark

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Get over it!