As I am preparing this column, the Overture pay-per-click search engine has discovered that three consulting firms are willing to pay in excess of $6 for any user who searches for the keyword "MAS90" and subsequently clicks on their advertisement, which brings them to their Web site.

What is striking is that this $6 is paid regardless of whether the company doing the clicking buys anything! If you figure that perhaps one in 20 clickers are potential tire-kicking "suspects," that brings the cost of a raw Internet lead generated via these top bidders to somewhere around $120 (and one in 20 might be a very optimistic figure).

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