Mooter cuts deal with Overture

Australian Web search start-up, MooterSearch, has moved to monetise its online search portal, mooter.com.

Australian Web search start-up, MooterSearch, has moved to monetise its online search portal, mooter.com.au.

MooterSearch, which launched its search engine in October last year, has secured a deal with paid search listings provider Overture.

The two companies have entered a two-year agreement which will see Mooter's fledgling search portal carry the Yahoo!-owned, pay-per-click advertising supplier's sponsored listings placed alongside its own.

MooterSearch is one of a growing number of search minnows nipping at the heels of the Internet search heavy-hitters such as Google and Yahoo!.

The company Mooter has drawn revenue from licensing fees for its patented personalised algorithmic search technology, but the agreement represents the company's first backyard test to see how well its theories on search behaviour convert to cash.

Mooter's search technology attempts to anticipate an individual's search aspirations by studying their behaviour patterns. The MooterSearch portal displays search results in diagrammatically in "clusters".

MooterSearch CEO, Leisl Capper, a trained psychologist, said that examining the behaviour patterns of Web users on the diagram gives clues as to what they need.

Capper believes that examining the "underlying patterns of personal search" rather than just keywords will result in more relevant advertising being served to the end-user.

She also pointed to the fact that small changes click-through rates can mean significant changes in revenue volumes.

In this sense Capper is critical of what she believes is the Web industry's current approach to search personalisation. She claims it's too reliant on theories regarding demographic behaviour.

"I know from my ten years of psychology research it's not really a safe assumption to say that age or where they live or gender is a good basis for deciding what they're interested in," she said.

Capper also bemoaned the gravitation of the market toward Google and the homogenisation of the search experience.

MooterSearch has avoided developing a business relationship with Google as the company doesn't allow its partners to mix its search results with those of other providers.

"We think our own algorithms are pretty good. We don't just want to be a Google portal which is what you end up being," she said.

Mooter's algorithmic search engine accesses the company's home-grown global listing index. It's a hybrid index comprised of its own listings and those drawn from meta-searches of Yahoo!'s Inktomi search engine.

But while she says Google as the 800-pound Gorilla today, it's clear she sees other threats on the horizon.

"I sincerely hope consumers still want choice and Microsoft doesn't slay us all."