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Search Providers Look Beyond Gates of Gated Content

Search engines are finding ways to provide access to gated information, such as subscription services, through improved technology. But are users willing to pay for content?

Sean Doherty

July 14, 2005

1 Min Read

Several search engine providers have begun targeting the "Deep Web"--the data that resides behind "gated" subscription-based and pay-per-view content. But will users be willing to pay for such content--or for the right to search it?

Grokker, the visual search engine, will soon offer search results for subscription-based content from its Grokker Research Web site. The new site will conduct a free, six-month trial in which users will be able to search content from Ebsco Information Services and the IEEE. After that, Grokker will charge a fee to access search results.

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The Deep Web is not uncharted territory. Subscribers were paying for electronic content even before the World Wide Web was invented. But now, content owners see search engines like Grokker, Yahoo and Mamma.com as new channels for revenue. Yahoo already includes content from The Wall Street Journal Online and Consumer Reports in its searches, and Mamma.com supplies health-care information.

Grokker aims to hook consumers with free, premium content and hopes they'll stay on after the toll gates come down. But content owners must part with their subscription-based models and embrace new modes of access that offer pay-as-you-go services subsidized with online advertisements. More important, consumers will have to change their "information wants to be free" attitude if they want to see that gated content.

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