Bill Gates has talked about it, but Yahoo is actively exploring a rewards program for its search engine users:
Yahoo confirmed on Wednesday that it’s polling some Yahoo Mail users about what they would want in exchange for making Yahoo their primary search engine. The survey was sent to a random sampling representing about 5 percent of its Yahoo Mail users, a Yahoo representative said.
“Yahoo is considering launching a program to reward people who make Yahoo their primary search engine. Yahoo Mail users will be given early access to this program. You will receive a monthly reward if you make Yahoo your primary search engine. This means that most of the searching you do each month must be on Yahoo Search.”
Users would have to log in or use a search box specifically designed for the program, like “a Yahoo rewards toolbar,” the survey said.
It’s not really clear how this demonstrates that Yahoo is the “primary search engine” – it looks more like a credit card rewards program where a user would get rebates for usage. Hit the link for the sample list of proposed goodies, but the resemblance to a credit card rewards program is even more apparent. I wonder how long it would be before someone comes up with an automated Yahoo “search bot” to try to game the system. Anyhow, MSN Search has one more thing to worry about.
Update: Techdirt points to a similar but underpublicized program at Amazon’s A9 search engine:
Later that month, Amazon’s struggling A9 search engine began experimenting with a similar program, which few people noticed, because… well… few people notice A9.
Geekzone has more details and points to an Amazon explanation of the program. Basically after signing up and using A9 to some unspecified extent for a few days, the user qualifies for a 1.57% discount at Amazon. Once qualified, “as little as a few searches a week will keep you eligible.”