Markus Frind is one of the more disruptive (and therefore interesting) bloggers to emerge this year. He's the guy who burst onto the scene with claims that he's making $10,000 per day off his online dating site PlentyOfFish.com. I actually met Markus in person last month at the Supernova conference and I can confirm he's a very smart cookie (and a nice person to boot). Anyway his latest post makes the claim that the big Internet companies make upwards of 20% of their entire revenues from toolbars. Here's how Markus summed it up:
"Toolbars are the major battlefield that NO one wants to talk about. Everything being done today by Microsoft, Yahoo and Google is to get their toolbars on peoples machines. Google did a deal with Sun, Dell and firefox to push their toolbars. From the above news release I suspect Ask.com is currently getting ~30-50% of its revenues from its toolbars, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are probably at 20%+ of revenues."
He contends that Ask.com makes 30-50% of its revenue via adware, smileycentral.com and toolbar installs - which is something that I'd love to get an official comment on by Ask.com!
According to Markus the big Internet companies are earning over $20.00 per toolbar user per year, so it's big money when you add it all up. Still, maybe I'm naive but I find it hard to fathom how toolbars can make up 20% of a big companies revenue. What do others think?
UPDATE: I emailed Ask.com and received the following response from Scott Garell, CEO of IAC Consumer Applications and Portals. Note that the toolbar business is not in the Ask.com side of IAC, though it was previously owned by Ask Jeeves.
"Just like our competitors, you are correct in asserting that our toolbar business is very healthy. However, your assertion regarding the adware question is not correct: SmileyCentral and all FunWebProducts are unequivocally not adware or spyware. These products do not serve or facilitate contextual or pop-up ads, do not monitor the sites a user visits, do not monitor a userÄôs behavior on the Internet, and do not log or track keystrokes. Major anti-adware programs do not flag FunWebProducts, including those from Pest Patrol, AOL, Norton, Lavasoft, Webroot and Symantec."
Thanks Scott for the response.