This New York Times article talks about Goto.com in glowing terms for pioneering a revenue stream that is based on placement in searches. My opinion of them as a second rate player in this space is reinforced by this article. The same way I skip those “special advertising sections” that sort of masquerade as editorial in magazines, I’ll go ahead and skip search results that are “enhanced” by commercial placement. here’s a quote from the article that I quite enjoyed: “Even Mr. Gross, GoTo’s founder, says he does not use the service for all his searches. ‘If I want information, I use Google,’ he said.”
I also much prefer the Google model of providing related but sponsored links in another section of the page. In the end, if I were advertising, I would rather have this sort of placement with a search engine that delivers solid information than an entry that has been slipped in by the site on a second rate engine.