Leapfish: Google Competitor or Flash In The Pan?
April 27th, 2009 by
Editor’s note: this is the first in a series we’re calling “Don’t Believe The Hype”
“It’s OK, you’re not cheating on Google”, says the autopopulated search box on the Leapfish homepage. But is Leapfish, the new meta search kid on the block, just another flash in the pan as far as it’s search aspirations are concerned? Innovation and new applications are always welcome in the world of search. It’s obvious however, that except for their “click-free search”, Leapfish is offering nothing new.
Better known for their free domain appraisal tool (which is still available through the search box on their homepage), Leapfish hopes to position itself as a “multi-dimensional information aggregator and search portal” that serves up results from Google, MSN, Yahoo and other engines. But do internet users really need another “me-too” meta search engine in a field overcrowded with new entrants and start-ups jostling for eyeballs?
Leapfish does have some nifty programming juju to support it. Some call it the “fastest search engine” thanks to its click-free search that shows you the search results as you type. For some users the absence of an “enter” key might be a good thing. With its unique search widget interface and reports of its “relationships through APIs in over 200 Web sites dealing with real estate, music, consumer products, traditional search engines,” news-gatherers and reputation managers might find it useful since it cuts down on the task of having to search different engines and sources for information and turns up search results they may have otherwise missed.
But most searchers looking for the most relevant and useful information on a topic would rather get their results “straight from the horse’s’ mouth” than from an aggregator. Internet users will always gravitate to engines like Google that give them the most relevant results, not one that returns a bunch of choices they have to dig through to find the information they want.
Leapfish’s advertising model is based on selling “sponsored keyword positions” in its top search results for a flat fee. Their 5% yearly renewal fee and openness to resale transactions leaves the field open for keyword arbitrage of the kind that Google is trying to weed out of it’s Adwords program. Selling keywords may not really be the way to attract quality advertisers. As an advertiser, you want to compete with other websites in your industry, not speculators selling your keyword to the highest bidder.
Leapfish also seems to be targeting a different kind of advertiser – those looking for “permanent ad positions” and the “Mom and Pop” businesses who don’t qualify for Google’s Adwords program because their CPC has gone through the roof, as Behnam Behrouzi of Leapfish.com stated in an interview with uber blogger, Robert Scoble, of Fast Company.
Behrouzi also claims that “everyone is competing with Google”. But Leapfish is not Google and their program for advertisers is not subject to the same quality guidelines that Google’s is. Its launch was also marred by reports of click fraud by super-aggressive sales staff, for which Leapfish’s Director of Marketing, Mark Kithcart, issued a clarification and apology.
The real question now is whether Leapfish will offer value to advertisers the way Google’s program does? Even if you don’t consider the fact that Google owns 65% of market share in online search, it seems unlikely that they will make a dent in Google’s share of the search pie anytime soon.
Reputation, market share and sound business practices mean everything to advertisers looking to put their hard earned money where it matters. It hardly seems likely that a new startup like Leapfish will be able to steal any of Google’s thunder anytime soon.
As far as our recommendation goes, Google’s Adwords program is still the best bet for advertisers looking for value and conversions. For those whose ads don’t do well on Google and are willing to shell out a few thousand dollars every year, Leapfish’s advertising model may offer some visibility..
For most internet users and advertisers trying to gain visibility, search aggregators are a mere flash-in-the-pan looking to skim some of the cream off the Big Daddy of search.
Related: Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket , Directory Advertising ROI
Beware of Leapfish. If you buy a keyword and change your mind within 24 hours, they may not refund you money. Read carefully.
I’ll be curious to see if they take the, in my opinion, overpriced keyword sales money and launch massive advertising that would rival godaddy. If not, I would predict them to sizzle out by Q1 of 2010… I don’t believe the hype.
The super aggressive sales staff is a real turn off. They run you on lines like “what is stopping you from going forward today” and if you don’t purchase RIGHT NOW your keywords will be gone forever. That is an outmoded means of direct selling IMHO. Just so happens I had stumbled upon an interesting key word combination showing over 90,000 clicks per month that was selling for under $700 in the third position. They tried to lock me in of course that moment with a small deposit. I decided to give it some thought and checked their system only hours after I hung up the phone and the keyword combination was sold. I think the rep pushed it on someone else. They saw the value based on the combination I gave them and since I didn’t pull the trigger right away, they did. Something stinks about this company.
I track where every hit to my website comes from. The only hit I have ever gotten from Leapfish was one that I did as a test.
Nobody uses this engine –
Anytime someone wants you to shell out big bucks TODAY for benefit sometime in the future, run away
Leap fish will do fine, aggregator or not it is a one stop shop and people like that. Google has become too big for it’s britches and cares little about it’s loyal customers,advertisers are leaving in droves, check your records, yahoo is knocking and watch out for ask.com. Leapfish is not a mom and pop advertiser. all of the corporate moguls are on board. Google is backing leapfish dummy, now they get twice the exposure. When their official launch comes it will be pretty incredible.
Sure Mike, Google is back leapfish…. Google is backing my shiny hiney.
Leapfish contacted me today trying to sell me some keyword positions and the salesperson told me that he was working on selling keywords in that industry and that he would surely sell the keywords I was interested in by the end of the day. I decided to give it some thought and waited to see if they actually sold and guess what, still 100% available. This is a very risky investment if you are depending on LeapFish taking off in popularity like they say it will.
I have been dealing with Leapfish for just over a year now and it seems to be working out for me so far as far as my sales go and my clicks and business. I am sure the ones complaining about this service are the ones that have a b/s business that would not sell if it was in front of someones face. I use the search engine and have even gotten my friends and family hooked. I have read the bad things about Leapfish and have personally never experienced any of it. Let’s be honest, there are bad employees and bad reputations at every company. Someone said beware that Leapfish won’t give you your money back if you try to cancel within 24 hours… Will Google give you your money back on a PPC within 24 hours if you decide to cancel? NO! But no one is badmouthing Google here, are they?
I love Leapfish and will not be leaving them anytime soon.
I’m happy to have dissenting opinions. I’m interested to know why you would be interested to give so glowing a review here.
If nothing else you should read the blog post in which the CEO of LeapFish whines about the poor treatment from TechCrunch.
Thanks for commenting!
With AdWords you are not paying thousands of dollars upfront. Besides Google AdWords have proven record of brining businesses top quality traffic. You should try them before you claim that LeapFish is better than Google. 🙂
Thank you for the link. I meant to do so a while back. But as they say, better late than never.
Vlad, my pleasure!
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Wow.. I’m so glad that I found this site. I was looking at spending 6K to $10k with leapfish. I told them that I wanted to check out the company and their claims. The numbers they give seem legit. But the sales pressure is there. Interesting how the supervisor is always available immediately. Not sure what I’m going to do. I like the page & the search engine. Question is will they grow to be worth the price?
I don’t think they’ll ever grow to be worth that kind of money. I would recommend you think about your own site more than anyone else’s.
As varied and rich as your selection is it should be easy for you to get more content and links which are wholly appropriate to you. Then you own the traffic and not some 3rd party, fly-by-night operation.
Thanks for the comment!
I just looked at your website. In my opinion spending such an amount of money something like Leapfish, that has yet to prove itself, is risky.
This is particularly true about e-commerce websites. With a budget of $10K- you can created a laser targeted PPC campaigns on the big three Google, MSN and Yahoo. I am sure will can tell you more about it. At least Google, MSN and Yahoo have proven results.
I personally predict that LeapFish will see a new wave of dissatisfied clients starting November – the anniversary when their first advertisers signed up. They will be charged the 5% renewal fee and many will be reminded what a waste of money that was.
Leapfish is basically a simple website site where you can search the web and quickly switch between the results from Yahoo, MSN and Google. I cannot see any reason why this website is going to be popular because it just does not have much to offer. Leapfish generates money by selling advertising similar to other search sites. A telemarketer from Leapfish called me and said that Leapfish was partnered up with Google, Yahoo, and MSN. The Leapfish sales person tried to manipulate me into thinking that he could put my company on top of all the search engines. The Leapfish sales people use high pressure techniques over the phone to make you think that you have to buy specific key words before the advertising spots sell out. The sales guy I talked to on the phone claimed that he could not even tell me how many times my key word was actually searched. I looked up the company’s web traffic and quickly realized that Leapfish is a scam. If no one really uses Leapfish, then the keywords are worthless. This company tries to scam business owners by selling them useless online add space.
Leapfish is a complete rip off. They use high pressure sales tatics to get you to buy their service with no way to get out of the contract. Stay away from these guys.
Either Andria is a leapfish employee or affiliate, or she does not know how measure true results. There is no way she is seeing any return on her investment.
Think about this: leapfish has very low traffic, and of that low traffic how many people aren’t even using the search engine, but using the news, youtube, tips, or other flashy bs on their site.
No way you can win with leapfish, they sell you a bag of crap for the price of a bag of gold.
I got a call this evening from Leapfish regarding purchasing ad space for my website. The call put me in a bad place to start, as I really am turned off by bing pulled into a “cold call” but on the other hand I had never heard of Leapfish and wanted to know more. I was quite impressed by the site. It was quick, clean and simple to use. I am curious of a few things:
1. What will draw folks searching to this program vs. the other options.
2. I see their proposal for buying adwords as having all of the potential risk and reward of buying real estate in a new and unknown development. If this becomes a hit it will be great to own that top space. If not, lost money. Over time though, I wonder if this feature they are selling (you own that one space) will become pointless as folks who enter that same term repeatedly will get the same result when perhaps they are looking for something different. Will this turn them off to the service?
Again, a neat site. Different concept (not sure if I am sold). The sales strategies are at least 20 years old and are a turnoff to me completely.
If a company is serious about SEO and has at least a few keywords at the top of Google , Yahoo, or MSN search pages, look at where your traffic is coming from. I have quite a few keywords leading google, y and msn, and have NEVER received any traffic from Leapfish.com except for my own clicks.
I’ve read some people saying that they have already received some traffic from Leapfish and think it’s going well. “Some” traffic, are you kidding me? You spent $1000+ on a keyword and you’re getting some traffic. How much do you want to bet that most of that “some” traffic is actually Leapfish clicking on your links.
Read posts and articles beyond this site people. 90% are negative….for a reason. Leapfish will never be big, ever. Don’t throw your money away. Invest the $1000+ is SEO optimization for Google, it will pay off.
Thanks for all the info and feedback guys. I received a call today and although the salesrep was polite and backed off when I pushed back, I could definitely see how someone could get pulled into spending some money on this. A good lesson in being sure to do your research before spending lots of money…
Curious that Andria left no website to visit. I find that odd for someone who has a website they are trying to advertise with Leapfish. Wonder if your speculation regarding her employer is correct?
I acutally purchased a key word phrase because there is no recurring fee except the 5%renewal. I spent $1,000 and my renewal is $50/year, in my opinion cheap. For me this is worth the risk, a print ad in my business can easily cost that for a one time exposure. I wish leapfish all the luck.
Thanks for the comment zane.
I hope you’re right and you get your money back 10 times over.
Best of luck,
I was contacted by a Leapfish salesperson by phone about 6 months ago. He contacted me again today. I then used Google to search for leapfish and also used http://whois.domaintools.com/ to find out who owned LeapFish. I then did a Google search on Ben Behrouzi. I admire his creativity and aggression, but, he is not the most business ethical fellow. Google has been very good for my business and I am sticking with them. Buying a search term with Leapfish is like buying real estate on Second Life and thinking you are making a good investment.
Oh! Yeah! Their salesperson was very charming and INCREDIBLY aggressive. I admire him for his persistence but I do not trust anyone that intensely salesman.
The salesperson I talked with claimed that since I was not interested he would “Work to find my competition and help them”. Very threatening if you ask me!
I think that Leapfish is a good idea. I really do believe it will take off. I bought an ad space. Now my company’s name is on top of 3 search engines and will always be there. Yeah, people may not like the sales people. All sales people are scumbags. But if you don’t see the genius behind the way Leapfish works, then you’re an idiot. People are lazy, if they can get all their info from one place and visit their Facebook friends too, then that’s where they’ll go. It’s the new remote control. You can’t sell genius to dim wits. If you guys don’t “get it”, then save the ad space for the rest of us who do “get it” and let us reap the rewards. Only truly stupid people will focus on a stupid sales rep and not be able to comprehend the big picture.
I also think Leapfish is a good idea. But I’m very concerned about any unethical business practices. I do hope they clean up their act, sell less agressively and rise to the next level. Bc, unfortunately or fortunately, I did purchase keywords today and I am a small, newly-launched business.
Hi, I received a phone call from Leapfish and have to admit, I was very impressed by what they are offering. I think it’s a great idea to have all your results from different search engines right there on one place. As well as facebook comments, twitter and you tube. I think it is very interesting idea. I bought a 3rd place spot for my wedding photography, and it cost $535. I think it is worth the risk to get a stake in something like this, which I think overtime will be something great. If not, oh well. But if it does take off, not much money invested to be at the top!
The leapfish homepage is pretty good, but who knows if it will be what leapfish claims it will be. I checked their traffic and was not impressed.
I learned of it because one of their sales reps called me two days ago and Wow! I almost felt his life was on the line if he didn’t make the sale. The more he spoke, the more I got scared.
It doesn’t make sense. He wanted to sell me the 1st position for the word “glutathione” for almost $4,000.00 dollars. The exact same price they are selling the 1st position for the word “antioxidant”.
I KNOW antioxidant is a much more searched word than glutathione. Although the searches related to glutathione is growing it is nowhere near that of antioxidant related searches and yet leapfish wanted to charge me the same $4,000 price tag.
To top it all off, on the phone conversation when I searched for “glutathione” on leapfish my website showed up under “blog results” and “twitter results” as two different people had twitted a page from my site. Price tag: $0
So, this leapfish sales guy wanted to sell me $4,000 to show up on leapfish on top, when I was ALREADY showing up three times for $0!
Yeah, that makes sense! Besides, I know when I search for something I DO NOT just automatically click on the 1st paid ad. I look over the WHOLE page (and even the next few pages for hidden gems) and see which ones offer content relevant to what I am searching for. duh!
Then when this guy is finally getting it in his head that I am not going to throw away four thousand dollars he asks me for referrals. Yeah, like I want him calling my friends and family so he can torture them as well with his scary aggressive sales tactics. (And I don’t hate anyone enough to give those numbers away either. LOL!)
Then today, I got ANOTHER call from leapfish, different sales guy. Their sales tactics are a HUGE turn-off and will not work in the long-term.
I love a good blog that gives me enough information about the topic I’m trying to research. In this case, I’m looking for information about Leapfish.
Wow! It’s the bad, bad and the oops(good) about Leapfish. It seems as thought there is more disenchantment with Leapfish the praise. I have been receiving calls from Leapfish and today I answered the called.
Just as many others have complained about the sales tactics, I received the same treatment; However, the guy also told me that I’m not in business to make money because I wasn’t interested in his stuff at the moment.
I guess my consolation is that I didn’t invest a lot of time into the conversation and I wasn’t parted from my money. Kudos to all of you authors and commentators for helping me make my decisions. Your input is as honest as it’s gets!
I talked to a rep today. She was actually very nice. But, if you take a look at how much (or little) traffic their site gets, then consider the likelihood of your keyword being typed in, click on and converted to a sale I don’t see how you would ever make your money back. I guess you are betting on the future but I think I would rather go to the horse track.
I guess they should call it Blow fish. Cause Leapfish Blows!
They are definitely a weird outfit. On top of their uber aggressive tactics, I learned from a former employee that they make promises they don’t keep to employees in terms of bonuses, etc. I believe what you say about the reps that seem to come off as desperate. It’s because they probably are! This Ben guy has several businesses that are operating marginally, at best. There is another one that, for 5 years now, I have seen positions advertised as working for a “pre-IPO” company. For pete’s sake give it up, it’s a company that provides car leads. There is no auto industry anymore! lol
I had the opportunity read this Ben’s blogs and see a short video he was in, and he really comes off as a whiny kid focusing on all the wrong things.
I interviewed for a job there, and really had to laugh at the supervisor’s comments about how all calls get handed off to them. The manager’s mouths hung open when I expressed concern about empowering their sales people to do their job. Why can’t your people close a sale and what purpose does it serve in the long run if you have to finish your employee’s job? Not an effective sales management strategy. It’s more like the individual supervisor stroking their own ego by claiming the call must go to the supervisor to be closed!
Does anyone get any organic traffic from Leapfish? I checked my appx. 40k hits of data available and didn’t have a single click.
Presumably, there would be a few from people using the Google, Yahoo, and Bing organic search results which Leapfish presents.
I too am very skeptical about the viability of this search engine.
I have had 2 phone calls from these folks in the last week. How do you get off their call list? The sales people are very confrontational. Who would even use this search engine? I know I wouldn’t as a consumer.
Does anyone know if you unclick auto renew whether or not that will cause no renewal? ( Somehow I doubt it!) I of course do not want to renew at all…I fell victim to Leapfish’s hard sell tactics & of course do not want that to continue past the time already paid!
I just started using Leapfish.com, I stumbled accross the site online last week after reading an article about how they are doing something with topsy (my memory is whack). I am not defending their sales tactics b/c I am not a business owner and I’ve never been contacted by them for advertising, but I actually like the site. I think that it will be more popular in the next generation of people b/c all your information is at your fingertips if you need to do research for a school project or something like that.
Kinda like how the younger crowd loves Myspace, and older people like Facebook…. that’s what Leapfish reminds me of..
If you’ve bought a key word have you ever thought about promoting the search engine to your friends and colleagues? I have tweeted and posted on facebook about leapfish and I am finding my friends are actually digging it too…
I know it’s a lame thing to suggest… why should I promote someone else’s business when I am paying them to promote mine.. but I remember I used to love Yahoo! and was anti-Google up until 4 years ago, lol when I got turned out! I am not saying I am a die hard LP Fan… but atleast give it a chance, not all sales people are intentional assholes, they are probably decent (uhh hmm ‘somewhat’ decent) people trying to make a living.
[…] Leapfish: Google Competitor or Flash In The Pan?- i think it is rather funny, or insane, to think that LeapFish can actually be viewed as Google’s competitor. But it sure makes a good headline. Well put article, a must read. […]