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How Ya Gonna Stop Google Now, Part II? May 4, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Of course, Yahoo needs a strategy for competing with Google, too. Unlike Microsoft, Yahoo is not competing with Google to be the leader in supplying core technology platforms. However it is competing for search ad dollars and users.

More important, Yahoo, like Microsoft, is talking about ad-buying and –selling marketplaces that integrate search and display, and build off of targeting aided by understanding consumer behavior. And, since Yahoo sees its portal homepage and email as key Web starting points, it must ensure that Google’s search doesn’t dilute its homepage influence, and that Yahoo mail and IM ddon’t lose communications share. Oh, and Yahoo offers core mobile and mapping services, has a classifieds business, and needs to do something about YouTube.

So what do we need to hear from Yahoo execs?

– How Yahoo’s as-yet-unproven ability to target ads effectively (thus raising remnant inventory CPMs) will produce higher growth rates in online advertising (it’s promising 25% per year) than Jupiter is forecasting for 2009 and 2010.

– How Yahoo can gain search query share. It has already shown it can earn more profits from Google’s search ad network than from its own. Yahoo needs to prove to its content and communications users that its own search is better than clicking away to Google.com. If it can’t, it can go on collecting revenue-share from Google – assuming no hostile governments call it anticompetitive – but will probably eventually lose query share and thus search revenues.

– But keyword search should also fuel those consumer insights that lead to better targeting. If Yahoo essentially concedes search, does that dilute the effectiveness of its display networks and exchanges? It might not, but advertisers and publishers need to be assured of that.

– And I want to hear Yahoo’s plan for walling off Google in search. How is Yahoo’s display network going to gain share from Google’s contextual AdSense business, and keep AdSense locked into simple text ads? How is it going to gain share versus AOL’s networks? Yahoo has a decent pitch for publishers, but it’s based on a product that isn’t shipping yet, and outside of some newspapers, has few marquee publisher partners.

I’m completely unconvinced that social media technology is air or electricity or whatever other “open” metaphor you like. What I see are two big social networks – MySpace is producing ad revenues and Facebook has all the mindshare about social graphing, whether from advertisers or developers. Even though Yahoo, MSN, and AOL are better equipped, through their direct sales forces and branded content programs, to help advertisers tap into social marketing, it’s Facebook and Google that get the attention. Yahoo showed some social platform demos; where are the marketing programs?

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