Associating Search Ads with Links Instead of Keywords

Imagine that someone types in a query at a search engine, and a page from your web site shows up in the results. In addition to a link to your page, there’s an animation in the sidebar that shows off the services that you offered.

Two puppies, a barrel, and a basket of food, Library of Congress LC-USZC4-3218

Under a new advertising program, you’ve subscribed to the links from your pages, and can show images, animation, audio, java applets, links to resources, reviews or ratings, and other advertisements when your pages appear in search results. If you include a link in your ad, you might also be charged for click-throughs in addition to the subscription fee.

Or, if you were the owner of a bed and breakfast, you could have your ads show up whenever the results of a search included both the web pages of the town where you are located and a specific travel site.

A newly granted patent for Yahoo explores the ability of advertisers to show ads in search results that aren’t based upon keywords, but rather on certain links showing up in search results.

Delivering items based on links to resources associated with search results
Invented by Pasha Sadri, Eckart Walther, Thai Tran
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent 7,359,893
Granted April 15, 2008
Filed March 31, 2004


Techniques are described for delivering search results pages to the users of a search engine, where one or more search result listings on the search results pages include one or more items that are associated with links to resources that satisfy a related search and that satisfy a specified condition.

The items that are delivered with the search results may be associated with a party that is different than the party that controls the resource to which the link is associated, and may be delivered such that any item that is displayed based on the item’s association with a link to a resource is displayed in a frame of display that is different than a frame of the display in which the link to which the item is associated is displayed.

There are a number of variations described in the patent, but the following example provides a good overview of some of the possibilities:

Suppose an owner of a “bed & breakfast” establishment in Napa, Calif. wants an advertisement in a specified form (i.e., an item) to be displayed with search results of a particular context that are returned in response to client web searches.

For example, the owner may want an advertisement displayed that includes the URL to a web page from which a reservation can be made to the establishment. The context with which the owner wants to associate the advertisement is defined through specification of some conditions.

For example, the owner defines the context to consist of search results that include particular links to resources, such as one or more Napa Valley sites, one or more travel sites, and one or more bed and breakfast related sites.

Hence, the owner may associate the following URLs to the advertisement item and register the association with the search engine provider:,, and

Further, the owner associates a condition with the resource links-item association. For example, the condition may specify that if any two of the foregoing three resource links are included in the top ten links that are identified as a set of links to resources that satisfy a search, then deliver the specified advertisement with the search results of any such search.

One question that came to my mind immediately while reading this patent is what do you do when your competitors subscribe to your link, so that their ads show up when your pages appear in search results?


Author: Bill Slawski

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