Be Afraid?

So it’s not really a great cause for alarm, but I had a strange feeling when I read about the launch of the new search engine Blingo.

The basic premise is that Blingo is like any other search engine (powered by Google in fact), but every time you run a search, you have a chance to win a prize. From Blingo’s own press release:

“Visitors to the Blingo website search for words or phrases, just like on other popular search engines, but at Blingo each search is also a chance to instantly win prizes. This month, Blingo prizes include Apple iPods, Amazon gift certificates, TiVo DVRs with a year subscription, Blockbuster subscriptions, or free movie tickets.

“Whenever users search at Blingo, they automatically qualify to win the kinds of prizes everyone wants. Several times a day, Blingo picks a winner at random and ships the prize to the lucky searcher. During its five month beta period, Blingo has given away nearly 2,000 prizes to Blingo users in all 50 of the United States.”

For the most part, this is all fine. Kudos to Blingo for a fun idea. Somehow it must be making sense for them from a business stand point, so bully and all that. As one who manages AdWords campaigns though, a site like this raises a few concerns for me. I might be too cynical, but if so, that’s part of the hardwiring and I probably can’t do too much to change that now.

Here’s my big question. Why run a search at Blingo, instead of Google, for any reason other than the chance to win? And, if searchers at Blingo are only putting in searches in the hopes of winning, do they really care what the results are? So, you have probably thousands of searches, performed by completely unmotivated end users, showing ad after ad. Gee, seems like this might artificially inflate my impression numbers, even though they are “real” searches by “real” people.

Forgive me for a lack of enthusiasm, but there’s already enough trouble lurking in the shadows of PPC advertising, do we really need to make the shadows this much longer.

Hopefully I’m way off base. Hopefully the fine folks behind this project have considered steps to protect advertisers already. Hopefully.