Smuggling Sponsors into Navigation Conventions

    March 28, 2007

Barry at SEL reports: MSN UK put a prefill in a search box, touting The Apprentice on BBC. Ouch!

Lately I’ve been in on quite a few, shall we say, monetization strategy meetings. Those newest to the ‘net often think you can "stick in" advertising not just in ad slots, but by performing a takeover of common navigation devices – let’s make this search turn into a search for a certain vendor’s products… you name it. I think users disagree!

Then again, I wonder how far you can push this – and so do many – as evidenced by the MSN experiment.

For example, on the "example queries" published below the search box on a site like Yelp, what if it said, instead of:

"Example: Tacos, hair salon, English pub"

it said: "Example: cafe, Anchor Bar, physiotherapy"

And on a major vertical search site, would an example query using a national advertiser, in that little line, like "Walgreens," be way out of line? What’s your take? That’s one of the topics I hope Danny and I discuss today in the Daily Searchcast at 11:30 ET.