Paid searches have become a cash cow for search engines and their partners by creating a flexible market for business “leads,” which allow an advertiser to reach a new customer. Though it can change daily, the amount advertisers will pay for such leads ranges from as much as $100 for mesothelioma information to $20 for conference-call services and 31 cents for paper clips.
Mainly because of a surge in search advertising and its acquisition of search company Overture, Yahoo Inc. took in $635.5 million in advertising-related revenue in the latest quarter, more than triple its year-earlier result. Google Inc. doesn’t release financial data publicly, but most of its revenue comes from search advertising.
With mesothelioma, it’s simple economics, says Chris Hahn, executive director of the not-for-profit Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Why is [mesothelioma] the highest paying keyword? Because there is nothing more valuable than one mesothelioma patient.”
Lawyers are so eager to attract mesothelioma cases because there is a clear link between it and asbestos exposure. Lawyers say a typical award in a mesothelioma settlement is $1 million, and attorneys get 40%. For cases that go to trial, the mean award in 2001 was $6 million, triple the amount two years earlier, according to a study by think tank Rand Corp. Over roughly two decades of asbestos litigation through 2002, Rand says, mesothelioma cases represented about 4% of asbestos-related cases but 20% of all cash paid out in asbestos-related claims.
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