These are interesting times for global Internet companies. I say “Internet” companies because it’s impossible to limit the expansion of services that haemorrhages freely from every industry giant’s heart onto the intricate arteries of the Web. (Even as we speak, Microsoft has just released Live! Search News as a competitor to Google News)
Earlier in the week, Yahoo! acquired the best web analytics tools, like, ever, in the form of IndexTools. This has massive marketing repercussions for demographic analysis and advertising platforms. Hell, at one stage, Yahoo! was linked to AOL who according to ComScore now has the best Ad platform, like, ever. It makes me wonder about the emphasis Web 2.0 can put on marketing now that site structures and the sites themselves are becoming increasingly formalised, albeit with different rules to traditional offline marketing.
One can see the vast landscape of, well, the Webscape is really more like an Oceanscape, constantly changing because a lot of power-players are making waves. Throw in some stock prices, takeover bids and soap-opera like intrigue, and you have a complicated (i.e. business) situation in which Yahoo! could conceivably go the way of Netscape.
On the one hand, it does seem like Yahoo! realises the way things are going and is struggling to find somewhere to jump. If they side with Microsoft, then the Nature Of The Search (NOTS) changes because different engines have different criteria for indexing pages. Some things may have to be reconsidered in a Webpage optimisation kind of way, and that’s big business right there.
But! There’s Google! Now they’re tough NOTS to crack. After already having a trial run of using Yahoo! Search to run Google Ads that yielded ‘positive results’, one wonders whether there’s a Google-Yahoo!-AOL eMarketing behemoth in the works, with Yahoo!’s new IndexTools and AOL’s Platform A (both arguably the best in their fields).
For those given to conspiracy theories (like Tim the Office Pirate), it could be that Yahoo! is trading all its valuable business data to Google before selling to Microsoft and reforming inside of Google. Far-fetched? In business, it’s called ‘Murders and Executions’. I mean, of course, ‘Mergers and Acquisitions’.
Perhaps things aren’t as dramatic as all that… After all, the Web is a fast-moving place and things like this have come and gone before - mere ebbs and flows in the inexorable tide of Web-evolution. The smart pirate would probably follow the money.
Either way, time is running out. Quarter 1 financial results are due for Yahoo! today and Microsoft’s three-week deadline is up this Saturday. It doesn’t help that projected earnings are down to 9c net income per share, down from 2007’s 19c. This might inspire Microsoft to offer less than the $46 billion it already has. That would be the worst thing. Like, ever.