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Search Engines' Reward Programs 83

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Search engines are dangling rewards and cash prizes to attract customers to their sites, the Wall Street Journal reports. MSN is offering free nights at the Four Seasons and other goodies to people who search for one of roughly a thousand terms on a rotating list. Yahoo's GoodSearch donates a penny to charity for each search. And Blingo hawks giveaways including iPods. But, the WSJ reports, 'There are strings attached to some of the reward programs. Some require users to register personal information like a name or email.'"
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Search Engines' Reward Programs

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  • by imboboage0 ( 876812 ) <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:25PM (#14787464) Homepage
    Some require users to register personal information like a name or email.

    Wait a second - you mean they want to be able to contact me if i win?
    • Yeah, cause, you know, they could let you know you won, and *then* ask for your personal information!
      • by pla ( 258480 )
        Yeah, cause, you know, they could let you know you won, and *then* ask for your personal information!

        Yeah, cause, you know, not everyone manages to punch the monkey...
      • The game got pretty obvious to me when comparing the fill_out_a_card guys with the instant win coupons on fast food etc..

        It's a shame it isn't as easy to have a physical junk mail address as email.
    • Just be patient and wait for Google to start offering prizes, and Google won't require us to give personal information, because it already has them if you are using its services like Search, GMail, Blogs......
    • I want my iPod to materalize from the search engine's webpage on my screen directly to my hands.

  • Door Prizes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:25PM (#14787467) Journal
    So this is kind of like when you go to a conference and they have door prizes being given away by companies.

    You can register for said prizes; all you have to do is fill out your name, telephone number, address and date of birth. Then, after you don't win, you get to put up for the rest of your time at that residence with crap junk mail. May the lord have mercy on your soul if you give those people your e-mail address.

    If you have to log in to use your favorite search engine, I'd suggest finding a different one.
    • This is why before I hit a conference I create an alias for my e-mail account that's simply It also has the added benifit of tracking who's selling my address.
    • Then, after you don't win, you get to put up for the rest of your time at that residence with crap junk mail. May the lord have mercy on your soul if you give those people your e-mail address.

      That's the reason there are these "free" prizes. Anyone who collects personal information is doing it for some sort of marketing purposes. They may not sell it, or even use it for junk mail or junk calls, but it is being used for some sort of marketing purpose. Even then, if there's some sort of "transaction", as it i

    • Also like drunkely registering for a "free vacation" at a bar, only to deal with calls from the time-share outfit for the next three months.

      No thank you.
    • Waitaminute. So Blingo asks for your name and address when you win a prize. And since their prizes range from a movie ticket to a PSP, that means they're paying anywhere from $10 to $300 for your address. If you (paranoid individuals) think that's more lucrative than simply having your search traffic, then I encourage you to read Google's annual report.

      Blingo's privacy policy and FAQ state that they don't sell your information, and why on earth would they need to. They're in the same business as Google, the
  • hacked (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zxnos ( 813588 ) <> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:26PM (#14787481)
    already hacked. []
    • Re:hacked (Score:3, Funny)

      by binkzz ( 779594 )
      <!--url's used in the movie-->
      <!--text used in the movie-->
      house cleaning, William Sonoma, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble ... wine, burgundy, california cab, pillows, throw pillows, throws blanket, oprah

      <!--DEBUT WEBOSCOPE Msn searchandwin -->

      All the keywords are in a comment inside the html page. Either this is an amazingly dumb oversight, or planned. I'm going with dumb.
    • Ha, the first hit in the "Sponsered Sites" list when searching for technology on MSN's search engine is Apple's.


      Technology Resources at -

      Visit Apple's IT Pro portal to find IT related content for IT Managers and technology professionals. Find news, articles,... /snip
    • Nope, not hacked. The terms are simply 'sample random queries' that are shown on the page when the user is idle. Load up the page and watch the search box. Each of the 'keywords' will appear in seemingly random order.
  • I use (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatSean ( 18753 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:26PM (#14787483) Homepage Journal
    Gets me pi/2 off my Amazon purchases. The rest of those 'rewards' are worthless to me.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:28PM (#14787500) Journal

    MSN is doing it (offering free nights at the Four Seasons); Yahoo's "GoodSearch" is doing it (but nicely -- donating pennies to charity); but Google is not doing it, but Blingo is.

    If you look at the Blingo "about us" page, at the bottom you'll find:

    Who is Blingo?

    We're a privately-held company in California, managed by a small team of successful entrepreneurs.

    Just wanted to set the record straight, since I still kind of believe Google means it when they say "do no evil".

    • For those who don't care to read through Blingo's rules, blingo works like so:

      If you search during one of about 49 special time periods per day, you win.

      But only your first 10 searches per day count.
    • And neither, for that matter, is Yahoo. From TFA:

      "A new site called, launched late last year by Los Angeles-based GoodSearch LLC, aims to lure repeat users by donating roughly a cent to a charity of the user's choice every time a search is conducted on its Yahoo-based search engine."

      The line referencing Blingo is similar. Somone misunderstood "Powered by Google", methinks.
    • Patches are released once a month, so you can easily achieve almost 4 weeks of uptime on XP and still apply patches. Add to that that not every patch release cycle requires a reboot, and you can indeed get months of uptime even when applying patches.

      Yeah, I know it's a joke, but it's not a funny one :)
    • I'm sorry, and blingo is evil how? Because they use some of their ad revenue to buy a few prizes to encourage more eyeballs to generate more ad revenue? Or is it because they don't ask you for any personal info until you win a prize, and then only use it to ship you said prize?
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:32PM (#14787540)
    If memory serves Ask Jeeves or another search engine of the same vintage advertized its cash prizes pretty heavily on TV some years ago. Would have been pre-2k, I'm guessing.

    (And yeah, boy, that whole "You have to tell us who you are so we can write out a check" tradeoff had never occurred to me. When I take the restaurant survey in hopes of winning $25 grand, they probably put me in their database, too.)

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:33PM (#14787541)
    Why don't you pay me to use your search engine instead? That's a fair trade. :P
  • Wow! There are actually still other search engines out there besides Google? Who would have imagined? I figured the other ones had all dissapeared after "google" became a word in the dictionary:P These competetors must be evil though because Google is good and they are trying to bribe users away. They should all be burned as witches!
  • by Jim in Buffalo ( 939861 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:42PM (#14787628)
    And if they catch you searching for pr0n you'll get a really, really big prize, delivered right to your door by a couple of FBI agents.
  • That's why I use Google. Every once in a while I try msn or something else and find that they pretty much suck. If they were better, I might use multiple search engines. If they were better than Google, I'd switch.
    • Back in the day, I only used Yahoo. Lycos and Excite were OK, but Yahoo was a lot better and returned more relevant results. Then Google came along and changed everything. Not only do they provide the best search results, the only ads are minor text-based ads that are easy to block mentally.

      I've tried using the other search engines a few times since Google became so good, but I've given up completely. I don't care if MSN and Yahoo both have banner-ad-free Google clones, the few times I've tried them were

      • But on the other hand, as soon as they start giving better results than google, why stick to google? Seen by the current quality of the others that might still take a while, though.

        On a different note, if you search and have a google mail window open at the same time, google search sees you as being 'logged in', so I guess your searches get connected to your e-mail address there.

  • Most of you probably already know that iTunes has now given away their grand prize for downloading the billionth iTunes song.

    If you weren't familiar with it, iTunes was giving away a $100 iTunes card and a 4GB iPod Nano for every 100,000th song downloaded. The grand prize, though was a 20-inch iMac, 10 5th generation iPods and a $10,000 iTunes card.

    Give aways are just a good way to encourage business.
  • Portal Google's results, with your own google adwords for revenue.
    Give out trinkets to increase the adword view counts.
    Make an 'affiliates program' [] similar to the thing to spread the word.
    Not half bad, if you ask me.

  • by amcdiarmid ( 856796 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .mraidcma.> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @04:47PM (#14787672) Journal
    AKA: If no one wants to use your product on it's merits: Offer more.

    Can you say Google. Everyone uses them (not everyone, but most) because they are historically good. No one is going to change unless something is drastically better AND they know it. No one will know unless they try some other engine. Ergo, to get traffic people offer "prizes."

    Basic PR. Unless the engines are really better than google, everyone will go back (Unless they really pay out the wazoo.)

    Good luck to them if they can improve on G. (Although MS may subsidize it just to hurt G. No one else can afford to do that.)

  • If you have a problem to provide them your e-mail address, which BTW they need to notify you in case you win, then why not create one of those free accounts for this purpose? For the Microsoft search engine use a Yahoo account and vice versa. If you do not win and someone starts to send spam to the account, then just ignore it. Another fine method, which only works if you are in control of your mail server, is to use one mail account per contact with a specific number, like user101 for MSN and user102 for Y
    • Another fine method, which only works if you are in control of your mail server, is to use one mail account per contact with a specific number, like user101 for MSN and user102 for Yahoo.

      If you control your own mailserver, there are better ways to do this. Postfix (and I think other MTAs) supports a "recipient_delimiter". You can set this to "+" (or even "_") and then use email addresses in the form:

      All emails in this form are delivered to "user" (the MTA strips off the + and

  • There are two different stories going on here. One is search engines. MSN & A9(amazon) offer rewards for users of their search engine. Rewards are fully sponsored by search engine companies marketing budgets. This is new. Another story going on here are affiliate sites. Blingo is an affiliate site as is These sites generate revenue by selling their traffic (or so it seems). Blingo will earn a few cents when users click on a sponsored links. Blingo adds another player into this m
    • Blingo users are not incented (love that word) to mash on ads. They get no prizes for it. Prizes are awarded at search time, not click through time.

      There is no reason to suspect the quality of their clicks.

      Also, you don't buy ads on blingo. Them's Google ads, friend.

      Not affiliated, just a fan and friend.
  • Come on, remember all the pop-ups for "Win a FREE IPOD!", "Win a FREE XBOX!", "Win a FREE DINNER at RED LOBSTER!", etc.

    Click on one and you find out that in order to get it you have to buy something or sign up for a credit card or something.

    I've come to ignore the "Win a blah blah blah" internet ads.

  • Theres just isnt enought incentive.... And "Incentive" not meaning prizes are ipods or cash... Most of my day revolves around Search Engines... With google - I get what i want within the first 5 links. I DONT want to SCROLL all over the damn screen jumping through hoops/mail links/ads and what ever crap they throw at me just to get to a link im looking for.
    The ol' saying Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) applies here.
  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:05PM (#14787818)
    MSN is offering free nights at the Four Seasons and other goodies to people who search for one of roughly a thousand terms on a rotating list.

    1000 terms, eh? I don't think any Slashdotters will ever win.

    Asian sluts [click] ...damn
    Teenage sluts [click] ...damn
    Paris Hilton blowjob [click] ...damn
    Hardcore action [click] ...Damn
    MILF [click] ...Damn!
    Mail order brides [click] ...DAMN
    Mother's Day Presents [click] ...DAMN!
    Online dating [click] ...DAMN!!!

    • How do I build an atomic bomb? [click] win!

      However, we've changed your hotel reservations from The Four Seasons to U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay. Also your reservations were changed from August 22-24 to right the fuck now get in the car you terrorist bastard.

      Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • I have a hardware giveaway that I draw every month on my site... It's a shameless attempt to attract new readers/members and I openly state that. No big deal. Lots of websites do the same thing. At least I giveaway good hardware that geeks like. :-)

  • by alx5000 ( 896642 ) <alx5000.alx5000@net> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:17PM (#14787908) Homepage

    You win a 4 night hotel for seaching on MSN. There you are, enjoying your fine stay, browsing the net with your laptop in your room...

    Some guy steps in. You look at him. It reminds you of someone. In your astonishment, you remain quiet. He moves his eyes on to your laptop. His pupils dilate. He begins to speak:

    "Just tell me it's not Google".

    You nod, frightened as ever. At that point, he picks up a chair and throws it across the room hitting a table you don't care about cause it's the hotel's anyway.

    "I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google".

  • ...and all I got was a friggin' Freaks List.

    A night at the Four Seasons sounds pretty good by comparison. Sign Me Up!
  • Anyone remember the big deal about (or something similar) If you logged in and searched everyday you got points that went into contest and drawings
  • Welcome to the Dot Com Bubble 2.0

    Everybody but Google is joining the party.
  • I don't know why everybody is so upset...this is just a regular marketing promotion.

    Offer a contest, give away cheap prizes...and get EXTREMELY valuable contact information and increased number of users.

    This probably won't last very long either. Only reason its getting a lot of buzz is because all companies involved have excellent PR departments.

  • SecuriTeam Blogs had entry related to French-based hosting company Jaguar Network on Feb 21th. Blog entry lists WHOIS information about this MSN's partner. The entry is discussing about the risks of registration when using Microsoft's Search & Win too: []
  • This is actually very cool.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan