Mack Collier hates the blogging search tool, Lijit. And when Mack talks, everyone listens. At least the smart ones. Mack is one of the brightest, most generous bloggers I know, and I know a lot of bright, generous bloggers. However, try as I might to understand his objection to Lijit, I hit a stumbling block.
The problem stems from a feature Lijit calls "re-search."
Here's how it works:
If you come to this site through a search engine, that means you were looking for something in particular. The page you land on may or may not satisfy whatever your need was when you searched for your terms. So instead of just giving up on the user and assuming you have nothing of value that may answer his question, by default, when you have Lijit installed, the user in that case would be provided with additional links from your blog -- as well as a tiny (but clearly marked) ad from Google.
His anger with the company that makes the tool is centered around two key points:
- Lijit didn't tell him about the feature and that he could disable it.
- Lijit is monetizing his content.
"I did a Google search for 'viral garden' just now, clicked on the top Google result (this blog), and was more than a little shocked and embarrassed by what I saw. As the picture to the right shows, the LiJit widget had served up several posts I have left here that you could click on. But as you can see under those posts, it also served up something that I didn't know it would, and certainly didn't give it permission to provide."
Needless to say, I see it a bit differently:
- I didn't read the instruction copy when I installed Lijit anyway, so I'm not sure information about re-search wasn't there. If it was, I missed it, but if it wasn't, it's possible that its absence facilitated greater speed of installation.
- Lijit isn't monetizing my content, but is rather monetizing search, according to the user's search terms, as they come to this site, and even then only if either my content or my presentation of it doesn't suit what the user is looking for (and the ad does).
Relevancy: The Holy Grail of Advertising
When Google introduced AdWords, it was a revolution in Internet advertising. It wasn't just because it was a new way to attract advertising revenue, but rather because, by tying in search terms to paid clicks, it made advertising more useful to users and measurable to advertisers.
Unlike just about all advertising that came before it, users had to first express interest in a particular topic and then see an ad and decide clicking it was worth their while before an advertiser would have to pay a red cent.
It was a stroke of genius -- and a major, much-needed coup in the advertising realm not accustomed to the user being in control of what they saw and how they interacted with it.
It's the same with Lijit.
Use What You Need. Stay as Long as You Like.
I have no idea what search term you used when you came to this site (though Lijit has some nifty reporting features that tell you after-the-fact), but whatever it is you were looking for, I hope I was able to give you an answer that met your needs -- or at least point you in the right direction.
As I told Mack, as was the case with Intense Debate, if Lijit ever got in the way of the completion of my readers' goals, I'd get rid of it.
But as it stands, Lijit's tools only helps people find what they're looking for. If that happens to be on this site, I'm very happy about that. If that happens to be elsewhere, I won't get in their way. And if Lijit happens to make a buck or two off of that, why would I care?
The advertiser, not I, has to bear that cost. And all the users get is content they want -- or at least a clue as to where they might find it.
The choice to click or not to click the ad is entirely theirs. - Cam Beck