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Yahoo’s new ad network – but is bigger really better?
September 8, 2008, 2:28 pm
Filed under: marketing, MSN, online advertising, Yahoo! | Tags: , ,

Yahoo’s relaunch of its online ad network, which now claims to reach more than 80 per cent of the web’s population, may be good news for the investors as it tries to keep pace with Google’s relentless ad network growth, but beyond being a positive bit of PR for a company that needs it, is it actually what the online advertising market actually needs?

The latest Bellwether Report made grim reading earlier in the summer and in a tighter economic environment, while the Internet is escaping marketing budget cuts, it is being squeezed with online budgets seeing their smallest upward revision since 2003. The issue therefore is not whether Yahoo simply fight with Google and provide as broad a reach, but what is it actually going to do to bolster the online display ad market? What fresh value will it add to the market? And how will it help marketers justify continued investment?

Beyond all the obvious Yahoo-owned properties, the new ad network boasts offering space on more than 100 top comScore-rated web sites. That’s all well and good, but what difference does that really offer a market looking to make its display advertising more effective? Online display advertising can have more of an impact than simply brand building, but it involves thinking a bit more creatively about the issue than simply buying up space on the 100 most visited sites.

In fact carpet bombing the most visited sites on the web is a nothing more than a hit and hope exercise if you’re response rates is your goal. Fortunately, some marketers and media buyers are beginning to realise that looking outside the top 100 most visited sites, they can find specific sites that offer access to energised audiences that are far more receptive and responsive. One of those smart chaps is a friend of mine in the online ad industry and he uses the example of a pet food brand advertising online, and the different response levels it would get running ads on MSN, Yahoo etc compared to investing the same budget in a handful of pet-lover web sites.

He also told me he was amazed by how many media buyers and online marketers still don’t get it, despite the pressure on their budgets. So while Yahoo can be applauded for the impressive reach and scale of its revamped network, the real question is, do marketers really need it right now and isn’t it a bit late to the game?


Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, News Corp – a deal done in 3 weeks?
April 10, 2008, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Google, Microsoft, News Corp, search marketing, Yahoo! | Tags: , , , ,

The bidding for Yahoo!’s future took another twist today when it emerged that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was trying to work with Microsoft to find a way they both could get their hands on Yahoo!.

Yahoo!’s rejection of Microsoft’s $31-a-share-offer earlier this week did not please a number of Yahoo!’s investors. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster asked 20 of Yahoo’s Institutional investors their opinion and the majority said they would prefer to deal with Microsoft on that offer, than do no deal at all. The growing feeling among Silicon Valley investors is that a deal will be completed in the next 3-4 weeks.

What that deal will be and what good it will be to whom, remains to be seen. Google is remaining omimously quiet although, Yahoo! is about to turn over three per cent of its US search queries advertising inventory to Google in a two week trial – clearly a little detail that – if you were cynical – might say is being done to annoy Microsoft during its pursuit.

Difficult as it is to keep up with all the twists and turns – Jemima Kiss over at the Guardian has summarised key events here in a neat timeline.

Yahoo! open to better offer, but is there any point?
April 7, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Google, Microsoft, search marketing, Yahoo! | Tags: , , ,

Yahoo! has responded bluntly to Microsoft’s three-week deadline to accept its $42 billion offer via a defiant open letter issued today saying the offer did not represent good value for Yahoo! shareholders, but that the company would be open to a better deal.

So why is Microsoft so keen on Yahoo still? Well its stock price has slipped more than 15 per cent since the start of the year an in a tightening market, search is one particular sector that is still thriving.

So that’s why the sector is so interesting – but what about Google, and if Microsoft and Yahoo! get together, do they really stand a chance? According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Google retains a 59 per cent share of all searches compared with 18 per cent for Yahoo! and 11 per cent for MSN.

Just because on their own, Yahoo! and Microsoft have failed to take make any impact on Google’s dominance, does not mean that if they get together they will miraculously make inroads. In fact, the cultures of the two companies are so vastly different that any alignment of the two businesses will take a long time to achieve and will struggle to become seemless. The real benefits of Microsoft and Yahoo! coming together will be beyond search, in terms of all the content and other services the two companies own, but that doesn’t address the sweet-spot that is search.

We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft’s next move is, and if a hostile takeover attempt may be on the cards. Regardless, in the search sector both Microsoft and Yahoo will continue to struggle against Google. The secret to Google’s success has always been its simplicity and the fact that it was always a search engine and everything else has been built around that core, winning formula. Hard as they may try, Microsoft and Yahoo will always be coming at search from the perspective of a portal and content owner and making search the core of what they do is far easier said than done.