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Free Prize Inside (Sometimes)

By - December 07, 2004

blingoRemember iWon? Yeah, a chance of winning cash for every search. It worked – sold to Ask Jeeves (with parent ISH) for a pretty good sum. Now comes word of Blingo, a search engine that launches Thursday. It will give away prizes on random searches. The engine is based on Gigablast results (is this the first deal for them? Gigablast is the one man band out of New Mexico, much lauded for doing so much with so little…).

In any case, Blingo has gotten coverage from SEW’s Danny Sullivan today, and I have been going back and forth with the CEO, Frank Anderson, who wants to clear a few things up. From his note to me:

I believe Danny Sullivan… was coming from the perspective that we’re not going to be able to beat Google with a prize / sweepstakes model. I wholeheartedly agree, and we don’t have such grand plans. We know our place in this market and simply hope to build a nice niche audience by doing things the right way — a great user experience and great prizes. …
It is certainly fair to use iWon as a reference point for Blingo because of the Sweepstakes angle, but the similarities end there. To be fair, Blingo has been implemented in a very user-friendly manner (no registration, spam, etc.) and strips away almost all of the nonsense typically associated with Sweepstakes.

Anderson has a point – for most search startups, you can’t out Google Google, you can only find another angle. Blingo’s is to have decent results, with the chance of winning a cool prize every time you search. For now it’s running AdWords as its business model, but if they pick up traffic, expect that to change….

This makes me think, huh…what happens when Google-like search results – I mean Google circa 2003 or so – become commonplace. Will that be good enough for a lot of folks, and will search become a commodity, as it was thought to be in 1998? Or will Google and first tier engines manage to really make search so much better that 2003 search will look as lame as, well, 1998 search does now?

Yikes. I certainly hope so. But for the masses who are not really super-searchers, maybe good enough *is* good enough. Hmmm.

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  • ZL

    Gigablast has done other deals. It powers Bill Gross’ new search engine (Snap.com) for instance. It’s also a bit more than one person now, but is still truly amazing for the resources they have.

    Like Craigslist, Gigablast poses a huge question mark over the whole services over the web industry going forward, which needs to be looking over its shoulder and asking in the immortal words of Butch Cassidy “who are those guys?”

  • pb

    “Remember iWon? It worked.”

    Not exactly. MyWay, in particular, and even Excite not only have much more traffic but also better economic models (i.e., they don’t payout per search).

  • Neville

    I believe John meant that iWon ‘worked’ in the sense that it successfully induced Ask Jeeves to pay $343 million for ISH. Given a choice between MyWay or Excite’s ‘traffic’ and $343 million ($150 million of which was in cash), one might well prefer the latter.

  • http://gemstonezone.com David

    It’s nice to see Gigablast finally getting some more exposure.

    On the other hand, it’s odd that their “submit URL” function has been disabled for some time now; one would think that they should want to increase the size of their index to make it more attractive to potential suitors.