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Coop, you can do better than this!

A reader writes that he's still waiting for a balanced look at the problem of paid search listings.


Coop, you can do better than this!

In response to the Nov. 30 column by CNET's Charles Cooper, "Paid search? It stinks":

Come on, you can do better than this. You seem like an intelligent guy, but your article added absolutely nothing to this long debate.

You took potshots at two easy targets that have been beaten on for the last three years: MBAs and paid links. (Full disclosure: I have an MBA, and I was VP of marketing at Fast Search & Transfer for two years, the search engine behind Lycos). I don't see how that added any value at all to the reader. What would be much more interesting would be for you to present a balanced look at the problem and then come out with your opinion.

For example, the investment behind building a search engine that covers the full Web requires 5,000 servers and growing. How do you propose a company would justify getting into this business with no revenue plan? You clearly prefer "pure" search experiences. Hey, I prefer "pure" news experiences without big blinking ads in the middle of the page, but I recognize that somehow CNET needs to pay your salary. Perhaps what you are suggesting is that you would be willing to pay for search on a subscription basis to avoid the ads. That would be a viable business, except for the fact that you would be in the minority of users right now.

If you would be willing to pay for such a service, that would have made your argument stronger, suggesting that like the world of television, and soon to be radio and more, there are two groups of customers: those who are willing to pay not to be advertised to, and those who desire free content and services and are willing to be marketed to in exchange.

Tom Wilde
Belmont, Mass.