Perhaps Snaps biggest departure from other search engines is its decision to reveal details of how it works and operates. Gross touted its transparency, along with its basis on a huge sampling of data, as a superior way to prevent the spamming of search results by sites that use techniques to gain higher result rankings. "We think that complete transparency will lead to a new search experience for the advertiser but, more importantly, for the user," he said during a conference presentation. "Its very difficult to spam these things because these are the aggregate usage of millions of users."With Snap, Gross is bringing together advertising within regular search results but in a way different from paid-inclusion programs. Even when a site advertises, its positioning is not based on top bids for a keyword but on relevancy, Gross said. One variable in the relevancy is a sites conversion rate, whether based on purchases of products from an e-commerce site or subscriptions to a content site. The higher the conversion rate, the higher the possible positioning. Conversion rates also will be publicly available, listed in a column within search results, so that users can see for themselves, Gross said. Advertisers can choose one of six methods for calculating their spending that include paying per click along with categories such as paying per transaction, per customer or per transaction. Other information Snap is revealing directly through its site includes its revenues and how much advertisers are paying. Snap combines existing Web indexes with data from its click-stream feed and advertisers to draw its results. It uses Web indexes from LookSmart Ltd. and Gigablast, Gross said. "Someday we might make our own crawl, but the problem with search today is not breadth but relevancy," Gross said. Idealabs search launch was the first of a series of new companies set to be unveiled during this weeks Web 2.0 conference. Web entrepreneurs and founders of one-time dot-com darlings such as Excite are scheduled to introduce their new ventures during the event, which runs through Thursday. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
Gross and Idealab were behind one of searchs big success stories, Overture Services. Last year, Yahoo bought Overture for $1.6 billion. Overture is credited with helping to usher in the growing popularity of the pay-per-click search ads that typically appear alongside Web results.