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Microsoft integrates Jellyfish into Live Search

Microsoft CashbackWhat does it take to dominate web search? One might think a search engine that produces quality results is all that matters, and this is exactly how Google stole the game from Yahoo, Netscape and others back in 90’s. What can you do though if your product has not been that great but you have a huge amount of cash burning your pockets? I am sure Bill Gates and other folks at Microsoft have been asking themselves this same question.

Buying your way into the dominance

Back in October 2007 Microsoft acquired a startup called JellyFish which sort of pioneered CPA model of doing business in the search world. As a way to get things going they offered a cash back incentive to the customers who bought products via their search engine. The idea is not exactly new and there is a whole class of sites called Rewards Programs that build their business around cash back. What JellyFish has done differently was that they promoted the search aspect of it. Many of the rewards sites back then didn’t have a convenient search function, and some required you to sign up for an account before you could do anything. JellyFish prominently displayed search on the front page and only required you to sign up before you make the purchase.

Yesterday Bill Gates announced at the Advance08 conference about a new project Microsoft is undertaking to get on Google. They call it Live Search cashback and the entire initiative essentially boils down to integrating into Live Search the JellyFish idea of CPA based product search. Consumers can get to the savings from the main Live Search page by clicking on the “Get Cashback” icon in the top right corner, or by going to Cashback.com, a domain Microsoft acquired for those unfamiliar with Live.com brand.

live search cashback screenshot

Good for consumers, bad for affiliates

The way all Rewards Programs work is by paying consumer a part of the affiliate commission they receive from the merchant when the consumer buys something using the program. Microsoft’s move into the niche essentially popularizes the cash back concept and makes it available to broader masses, which no question is good for consumers. Just as cash back credit cards, rewards programs is a great way to save while shopping.

On the other hand, the fact that Microsoft has become a “super affiliate” may not do well with businesses who rely on Live Search to bring in sale leads or do affiliate arbitrage. This is clearly a conflict of interest here and will cost Microsoft some of the adCenter customers.

As for the long term Google vs. Microsoft aspect of this move, it is clear Microsoft is desperate and is trying different things in an attempt to gain the search market niche. I will be curious to see how another acquisition they made recently plays out in that aspect.

Microsoft buys JellyFish, Netbank no more, etc

This is a roundup of a few notable events in the shopping/bargains niche that drew my attention over the past week.

Microsoft buys JellyFish

JellyFish is a price comparison site that pioneered cost per action model in June 2006 and then a few months later spiced it up with reverse price auctions (read my previous coverage here and here).

The auctions have been a huge success for JellyFish. On September 5, 2007 in a smart marketing stunt JellyFish auctioned new Toyota Prius that sold for $18,781 which is 15% below MSRP or 8% below invoice price as quoted by Edmunds.

On October 1, Microsoft announced on its Live Search blog that they acquired the company for an undisclosed amount. As a part of the deal JellyFish team will maintain its standalone identity and its 26 employees will remain in Wisconsin.

My congratulation to Aaron Everson and others at JellyFish team! I hope you are able to keep the ball rolling and “corporate BS” will not stand in the way. ;-)

Read more from BusinessWeek

NetBank closed by US regulators

Even though I am reading now that many had seen this coming for some time, it personally took me by surprise. The major clue would be de-listing the company from NASDAQ earlier this year.

I have a CD-account with NetBank and so far I am not able to get through to the customer service (phone: 888-256-6932). All officers are busy (probably serving all those anxious customers who try to get to their savings) and the hold time is beyond my patience threshold.

After NetBank closed, ING assumed $1.5 billion worth of the failed bank’s FDIC insured deposits. When I spoke to ING rep. they assured me that my account will be rolled into ING upon maturity however I am free to close it now penalty free.

I noticed that somehow I now start paying more attention to that “FDIC insured” logo on bank websites (I read somewhere that customers with deposits in excess of FDIC $100,000 limit will only get one half of their money).

Has closing NetBank affected your finances?

Read more from MarketWatch

Toyota tests new fuel cell hybrid

The success of Prius obviously helped Toyota to realize the huge potential of alternative fuels and I am not surprised at all to see this recent development.

Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday its improved FCHV zero-emission fuel-cell car completed a road test from Osaka to Tokyo, covering 560 km (350 miles), on a single tank of hydrogen.

The vehicle is built upon Toyota’s Highlander SUV and pioneers some amazing new technology like polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack, CO2 based coolant system, and aluminum fenders, roof and other components which make it lighter than the original Highlander.

According to HydrogenCars blog this car is the “first fuel cell vehicle to acquire vehicle type certification under the Road Vehicles Act by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport”.

Most automakers have fuel cell vehicles in the working with expected launch dates around 2012. Does this bit of news mean that Toyota will be able to break that deadline?

Read more from Reuters

Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 Express – Free!

Running a small business? Take advantage of this great promotional offer from Microsoft.
The download size is 338MB so be prepared to pay for it with your wait time. There is no free lunch. ;-)
Here is a related discussion at FatWallet forums.

MS Accounting

Get $100 worth of web advertising – Free!

If you fill in the form at this link there is a chance you will get $50 worth of clicks via Google AdWords network. The promotion is for new accounts only so be ready to shell out $5 sign up fee. The deal thanks to the eComXpo conference going on right now. More details available here.

Here is another promotion. This time it is a $50 from Microsoft (with a new account as well) to set up your advertising with MSN network. Forum discussion at DigitalPoint.

If you have not been already using either of the networks this might be a good opportunity to start. I am planning to do so with MSN.

Note. If you sign up on any of these deals make sure to read the fine print. I noticed that the MSN one requires you to use the credit within 90 days.




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