Greater search sophistication threatens ad-funded sites

Advertiser-funded websites may struggle to stay on search results pages as more sophisticated search applications are launched, according to industry observers.

Search engines are understood to be looking at developing new forms of search – such as “blended search”- that will offer more information, such as news, photographs, video and other rich content in the results.

Yahoo! announced last October that it is developing a new search application. This could mean results with moving video clips and greater interaction.

Ad-funded sites need people to click out of the search page to see their ads, and industry observers believe that if more information is on the search page, users will click through into sites.

Paul Doleman, vice-president of search at iCrossing, says: “Advanced blended search will not ‘kill’ ad-funded sites, but could change how they work.”

He adds that contextual ads, which are activated when a computer user rolls their mouse over related words in search results, is a viable way to show ads in search results.

But a Google spokesman says it is not keen to hold visitors on the search page. “This is down to how the user engages. We provide people with the information they need and then they can view it or click on it,” he says.

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