Ask TW: Are Search Verticals Positive or Negative?


Been searching for a movie [YHOO] lately? What about airline tickets [GOOG]?

Are vertical searches great for business? Do they take more away from the Commons than they give back? How can an upstart get included in one? The whim of the spider?

Are they integral for your business model? Are slots in vertical searches only reserved for the Big Guys in the top 10,000 most-visited websites?

Hopefully, you are not running an airline ticket or movie review site, but what about all the other vertical searches that are implemented seemingly daily? What about the near-infinite potential to expand to other markets?


I think it is an error to

I think it is an error to assume anything owned by someone else as a commons.

Capitalism vs Communism

Communism claimed that the ownership of the Commons was impossible; thus to improve citizen's life, the state would own vast tracts of land/property and then declare "every one" owned it; think national parks.

Increasingly we are realizing that more and more of our life is revolving not so much around property as utilities. In the early and mid-20th Century, capitalistic governments the world over adopted the policy that while the government should not outright own the production capabilities of several utilitarian services, they nonetheless had to be regulated for the greater public good.

The results? After nearly 100 years of existince, electricity spread to a great percentage (99%) of Americans within 10 years than it had in the last 100, thanks exclusively to companies being regulated; it stays cheap relative to gasoline due to the same regulations. While govenrment went on a non-fair free trade/deregulation bonanza in the nineties and aughts, most of the still-regulated broadband countries have far greater percentages of plugged in populations than the United States.

As new services are created upon which our lives increasingly revolve around and in many cases depend on (such as advanced medical care), more and more of these services need to be regulated as soon as monopolistic forces begin to become apparent and the cost of entry for new competition becomes too steep. Such is already the case for medicine, broadband and a good case can be made that GOOG and YHOO should be regulated as well; not so much in their bottom line as much as how the free SERPs shoudl show up (in order to maximise the chances of exposure for all). It would be particularly difficult to justify hand picked vertical searches under this system.


I don't see vertical search that much different from vertical niche directories as they serve a need to expose more people to more websites of a specific nature. Whereas a big search engine like Google squashes everything except "authority" sites, the veritcals thrive on new content instead of putting it in a sandbox and exposing more sites to more traffic in a shorter period of time.

FWIW, I have a couple of people using my site that claim I send them over 90% of their traffic, not Google, Yahoo or MSN, which should tell you without my vertical site they would never be seen.

I think users are the form

I think users are the form of regulation.

Also, as a marketer, the way I see it is that each time they close off a hole they become less relevant and/or open up other holes.

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