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AltaVista ends paid search practice

The portal discontinues its practice of giving the highest advertising bidder premier placement on search result pages for specified inquiries.

AltaVista has discontinued its practice of auctioning off search results.

The portal was giving the highest advertising bidder premier placement on search result pages for specified inquiries. The auctioned links appeared prominently above other search results for the specific query.

However, the company drew criticism when it launched the program in April.

AltaVista representatives could not be immediately reached for comment. But a message on the site reads: "The Relevant Paid Links Program has been discontinued as of July 22, 1999. No more keyword bids are being accepted. If you have previously placed a bid and won a placement during the week of July 6 to 13, your relevant link will still run, during the week of July 19 to 26, without charge. If you have placed bids after July 13, your relevant link will not run and, subsequently, there will be no charge."

The portal has begun offering a number of new services since it was acquired by Net investment firm CMGI last month from its former owner, Compaq. For example, AltaVista is planning a free ISP service, and it is getting into the e-commerce hosting arena as well.

AltaVista was not alone with its pay-for-placement policy. Search site GoTo.com has offered it since February 1998. The change in AltaVista's policy was first reported by Wired News.