Web Sites Find Revenue by Renaming Their Offerings

CUPERTINO, CAL. ( – With banner ad revenue in retreat, every major Internet company today announced it would offer only “premium services” – programs that may look similar to their original services, but are different, said one company spokesman, “because the old services weren’t called ‘Premium.'”

One such firm, popular search site Lycos, plans to offer “Premium Search,” which allows visitors to “search” the Web for a particular word or phrase. Outwardly similar to its previous, free search, the new service will be much more valuable to users, insisted spokesman Tim Parrish. “There is really no comparison,” said Parrish. “Free comes from the Old English freo, meaning ‘free.’ Premium comes from the Latin word praemium, meaning ‘profit.’ So there’s a big, big contrast.”

Meanwhile, the Web’s most popular site, Yahoo, has significantly upgraded its previously free search by offering “Premium Results,” said President Jeffrey Mallett. Specifically, users can input words and phrases in a “search field,” click the special “search” button, and a page of “search results” will appear, all for only 25 cents per result. As an example, said Mallett, a search for the two-word phrase “tissue paper” will be free. Viewing the resulting 15,400 web pages will costs $3,850.

But wasn’t it possible to obtain the same results for free using the old search? “No, no,” said Mallett. “The old search was not free. In fact, it cost us money. Using the new, premium search, we’ll make lots of money. Mondo difference.”

Most other major sites have also announced premium service programs:

¤ Auction site eBay will split its service into eBay Lite and eBay Premium. Using Lite, sellers can continue to list items for free. The $14.95 Premium service, however, allows them to display a picture of the item, a description of the item, a price for the item, accept bids on the item, and get paid if the item sells. “It’s really an all-in-one package of service solutions,” said eBay spokesman Kurt Shriff, who added the company was justified in charging for the package because it had never done so before.

¤ Unlike the Wall Street Journal, its in-town rival, The New York Times has shunned charging a subscription, and has no plans to change that, said Times spokesman Adelle Friedman. Instead, the entire Times site will be “vertically recalibrated” as “Premium Content,” and be publicly available for only $29.95 a month. “Aside from the Journal, the subscription model on the Internet does not work,” said Friedman. “Therefore, this is not a subscription model.”

¤ Prior to launching its Premium Quote Service on Nov. 8, financial site Raging Bull offered free stock quotes to registered users. Those same quotes are still available for free, said general manager Jeffrey Housenbold. However, users who want new quotes, those dated after Nov. 8, can do so through the Premium Quote Service, at $2.95 per quote. “The derivation of ‘free’ can also be traced to the Sanskrit word for dear, while the Latin word praemium could also be defined as ‘reward,'” noted Housenbold. “I feel confident our members will appreciate the difference.”

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