The was a time when Google rejected “paid inclusion.” Raising potential concerns for publishers and online searchers, however, the company appears to have embraced the pay-to-play business model. As examples, Marketing Land points to Google Hotel Finder and Google Flight Search, both of which debuted last year.
“On the surface, they seem like Google’s other ‘vertical’ or topic-focused search engines,” it writes. “Unlike Google’s other vertical search engines, however, payment seems to have a role in being included in Google Hotel Finder and Google Flight Search. Maybe Google will find your hotel or your flight and list it for “free.” But it seems more likely you’ll appear if you have a paid relationship.”
How is Google justifying the about-face? As Amit Singhal, the Google executive who oversees all of Google’s search products, recently told Marketing Land, the search giant needed paid relationships to collect data. “We started noticing that a class of queries could not be answered based upon just crawled data…. We realized that we will have to either license data or go out and establish relationships with data providers.”