Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why the Switch?

Many of you have noticed that ProLifeSearch.com is once again powered by Google. Some of you are pretty excited by that. Others. . . not so much.

Let me explain why we had to make the switch. I’m going to get a little detailed, but want to answer all your questions about this in one place, so I think it’s worth the time to get it all down here.

The original business model for ProLifeSearch was to have a search engine that created revenue from the “pay-per-click” ads served up by Google. You see, every time someone clicks on one of those ads, Google gets paid. It’s how they make over $6 Billion per year.

Well, the idea was for us to share the revenue from those Google ads by serving them up on ProLifeSearch.com and using that revenue to make donations to Pro-Life charities. And better still, Google gave us the search results for free.

Not that we are so clever to come up with this…in fact, Google has a program (that almost anyone can be part of) to share revenue in this way with many websites.

There was a hidden problem in using this program to generate donations for pro-life charities that we didn’t know about at the start of our effort, though:

Google has a prohibition against providing incentives to site users. For instance, if we were to send checks in the mail to our users as an incentive to keep using our site, Google would bar us from using their ads.

Well, Google decided—because we provide donations from our revenue—we were an incentive site. If we kept the revenue it would be ok, but because we encourage use of our site so we can provide donations to pro-life charities, they stopped serving ads on our search results, thereby stopping our revenue sharing.
To “solve” this not-so-little problem, Joe and I spent a great deal of money getting a new search engine provider that we could control 100% (As we discovered in the first six months of 2006, that’s a lot harder than one would think).

We found that solution with the “meta-search” engine that, until recently, was powering ProLifeSearch.

However, several problems arose.

The first big one was that the new search engine was MUCH slower than Google. And although the results were often more relevant, there was less of them. Because of this, over 35% of our members left ProLifeSearch and started searching on the regular Google site. That was too much of a mass exodus to ignore.

Second, we were charged money for the “meta search” results. They were not free like Google.

Third, the only way we could produce revenue for donations was to have sponsors step forward from the pro-life community to purchase ads on our site. Thankfully, many sponsors have done this in a wonderful spirit in support of Life. However, the ad revenue was barely enough to cover the site’s search engine expenses and still make very limited donations.

As a result, Joe and I had to continue to put our own money into ProLifeSearch, as we have done since October 2005. Quite frankly, that can’t continue forever. And it certainly would not yield the donation amounts we hope to achieve by using the Internet to provide technology tools to all online pro-life users over time.

So, Joe and I had to put our thinking caps on and totally re-designed the business model for ProLifeSearch. Of course, part of that is continuing with our sponsors and product offerings.

But we also have what we believe is an excellent long-term solution which we will be rolling out over the next 3 or 4 months. The first step in this new plan was to get back to a search solution that would meet everyone’s search needs and also be free. We searched and searched for someone else, but at the end of the day that solution is still Google.

Some people are upset by this and object to Google for various reasons. What I can tell you is that your use of ProLifeSearch is SUPPORTING life. Take comfort in that fact that we’re using Google’s search results for GOOD.

You will see some more changes over the next few months that Joe and I believe will be very exciting for you. Many of these changes are direct results of suggestions made by our members. We want to continue to make this YOUR site while remaining financially stable enough to support life in a huge way. So stay tuned.

Thank you for all the support you’ve given in support of life and this site so far. Joe and I sincerely appreciate all of you and the efforts (and sometimes sacrifices) many of you have made to make ProLifeSearch a success. Know that we are not only committed to life, but also committed to you.

Thanks and God Bless.

- Jack

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that explanation. Just curious, I think you left out something you probably meant to explain, which is how the current system is different from the original system, since you stopped using Google because of their policy about incentive sites. Are you using a different Google program now?

22:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack,

Thank you for your reply. I was one - or the one - who originally cited some of the things google is involved in. It makes a whole lot more sense for your switch back to google now than it did at the very beginning. I had no idea that the Metasearch program would charge you per search. I do hope, however, that eventually you can find someone else to deal with.

Alexander

22:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you still had the other pro-life services like the games? I couldn't find them anywhere.

21:27  

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