Yahoo is exploring several options for the company’s future, mainly in order to maximize the stock value now that Microsoft wants to acquire them. A merge with AOL/Time Warner is mentioned as one of the alternatives. However, a couple of days ago Yahoo announced that they will start a test of Google’s AdSense for Search Service. I hope this is just a way to demonstrate to the shareholders that they can make more money per user if they have a better ad-network, and not a serious consideration to join Google’s. I’m afraid that the latter is the case however. I mean, they already know that Google’s ad network has a better coverage and relevancy, so why do this test if you’re not seriously considering to outsource the search engine advertising to Google?
So why do I say I’m afraid that Yahoo will join Google’s Ad platform? Simple. That step would give Google a near-total monopoly over the search market. That’s not good for publishers and for the advertisers. It might even be dangerous since Google’s Adwords will then be the only place to go for search engine advertising. Given the fact that the pricing of Adwords is based on an auction-model, I think Google is the only party who will benefit. But, apart from the danger for the online advertising industry, this step would make Yahoo extremely dependent on Google.
Microsoft’s response to the Yahoo/Google deal is a quite logical one:
“Any definitive agreement between Yahoo! and Google would consolidate over 90% of the search advertising market in Google’s hands. This would make the market far less competitive, in sharp contrast to our own proposal to acquire Yahoo! We will assess closely all of our options. Our proposal remains the only alternative put forward that offers Yahoo! shareholders full and fair value for their shares, gives every shareholder a vote on the future of the company, and enhances choice for content creators, advertisers, and consumers.”
It’s clearly bothering Microsoft that they are still such a tiny player in the web search business. Despite the huge investments they made in search technology in the last few years, their US marketshare has decreased from 16.3% in 2005 to 11.2% by August 2007. That’s not very promising. In my opinion they seriously screwed up by renaming all of their online services to ‘something’ Live. Their branding strategy is a mess, and now they want to add Yahoo! to their portfolio as well. I think the Yahoo management understands that a merge with Microsoft would kill the company culture, but, it might be difficult to explain that to the shareholders who will receive $$$ when MS acquires Yahoo.
It’s a tough one, but I would definitely stay away from both Google and Microsoft. A merge with AOL or News Corp. might be an interesting alternative. To be continued (I guess)…