Search-engine advertising — paying a fee to ensure your company is listed prominently on a search-results page — has taken off in popularity. By allowing advertisers to target customers using any word or phrase, these sites have lifted the lid on some of the more peculiar niche markets on the Internet — and how much advertisers are willing to pay to reach these groups.
Although still a small fraction of the overall online advertising market, pay-for-placement advertising is one of the few bright spots in the slumping online advertising segment these days. In 2001, keyword searches accounted for 4% of the $7.2 billion in online advertising revenue, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group — but that number is growing. In July, Overture alone reported second-quarter revenue of $152.5 million, from $62.5 million the year earlier.