TCS Daily

The Hundred Dollar Click

By Jay Currie - April 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Since I'm idle by nature, I was delighted to find in the Wall Street Journal of April 8 a money-making no-brainer:

"The rare, asbestos-related cancer is the king of search advertising, a Web phenomenon in which companies bid to get their ads placed high on the search-result pages of sites like Yahoo and Google and then pay when users click on them. While most search ads cost less than a dollar a click, personal-injury law firms looking to land new clients have bid up mesothelioma ads to $90 or more."

Revenue for the ads on search results goes directly to the search engine owners. However, I figured it could not hurt to set up a little blog: Mesothelioma Attorney. A few hits a day would be just fine at those rates.

Blogs are funny creatures in the search engine world. Because they are updated frequently they look like a swarm of flies to hungry search engine spiders. Where it might take six months to get decent Google ranking with a static website on a given topic, a blog often produces results within days.

I already had a Google AdSense account and, even though Google has a cap of $50.00 per click on AdSense ads, I was in a hurry.

A blog built with, hosted at and featuring Google Adsense advertising, will certainly be spidered very quickly indeed. While this is no guarantee of top page placement, a blog can get you in the game. And it's free.

It took a good ten minutes to set up the blog. Then I had to put out a bit of candy for the AdSense spider.

Google aims for content. While there are plenty of seemingly clever tricks which people play with keywords -- hidden text and many more sophisticated strategies -- these take time and, internet lore has it, may actually cost a site Google rank. The Googlebot is not perfect; but it is not dumb either.

One decent way attracting the AdSense spider's attention so it will serve the high value ads you are looking for is to link to AdSense advertisers in the area you want ads from. Which I did and, boom, there were ads from mesothelioma advertisers.

Now the truly remarkable thing about AdSense is that you see the results of your labours almost instantly. The cheque is monthly but the clicks are recorded and displayed in a matter of half an hour.

I spent another hour promoting the blog, mainly to other blogs. I really just wanted to generate a little traffic.

I was well aware that the price of a sponsored link at the top of a Yahoo or Google search for a hot key word was only distantly related to the per click payout on a minor blog; but if the placement was going for $100.00 there was a chance it would be worth 5-10 dollars on my blog.

A quick check over at Overture (on the upper right hand side of the Overture search pages you can click and get the latest bid for the word you are searching) was a bit disappointing. Since the Wall Street Journal article the keyword bids had been dropping fast: "mesothelioma lawyer" $51.11, "mesothelioma attorney" $7.55, "mesothelioma law" $20.13.

The mesothelioma bidding war is economically surprisingly rational. While it may look a little nuts for plaintiff's lawyers to be paying, say, $20.00 a click, the value of a single mesothelioma case can be very high. An average of one million dollars if settled before trial and a mean of six million if there is a trial of the action according to a 2002 Rand Corporation Report.

The critical element of mesothelioma litigation is a link between this cancer and exposure to asbestos. Much of the asbestos litigation commenced in the last few years has been, charitably, a stretch. (For example perfectly healthy people who may have been exposed to asbestos suing for compensation for their fear of contracting cancer and winning.) However, while rare, a genuine case of mesothelioma is very likely to be caused by exposure to asbestos. There are about 2000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States each year so competition to represent those cases is fierce.

The key to the bidding wars is that mesothelioma lawyers typically work on contingency fee agreements which are worth up to 40% of the money recovered for the plaintiff. Making first contact with one of the unlucky people who contract the disease is potentially hugely lucrative.

In the last few years the internet has become the first stop for many people when they are diagnosed with a serious disease. They are looking for information about their disease and, in some cases, legal information. Whatever is on the first page of the Yahoo or Google search results has a much better chance of being clicked. And one mesothelioma case could be worth more than million dollars to the law firm which is able to represent that case. Little wonder that, as the AP recently reported:

"Chris Hahn, executive director of the not-for-profit Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif. [stated], "Why is [mesothelioma] the highest paying keyword? Because there is nothing more valuable than one mesothelioma patient."

The ever valuable Seth Finkelstein points out this causes some blips at the search engines. The lure of $50 or $100 clicks has been irresistible. Seth points out "Yup. The National Cancer Institute's Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers page is around #12 for a Google search."

In fact, it may make economic sense for mesothelioma lawyers to bid considerably higher for their key words simply because the payoff is potentially so huge and the search market so targeted. Even with the likely storm of "lookiloo" clicks the buzz at the WSJ likely caused, a thousand $100.00 clicks is offset ten fold with a single bone fide mesothelioma case.

As well as being an excellent argument for tort reform, the mesothelioma key word auctions are a nearly perfect example of how technology allows markets to work and work well. The incentive is there to build a high content website or blog which is funded by click through advertising.

Or is it? Under the terms of the AdSense Terms and Conditions I am not permitted to disclose click through rates or much else about the program. So I won't. Suffice to say, twenty four hours into the experiment, I have yet to make my first ten dollars. But it's early days.

Jay Currie recently wrote for TCS about Virtual Israelis. His online home is here.




i want to how can i earn $100

Hi all

Hi all

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