Anyone that has even the slightest involvement with real estate lead generation has some interaction with search engines. The search engine landscape in the US has changed dramatically with Yahoo search indexing now being powered by MSN. Yahoo’s pay per click program is also in the process of transitioning to being powered by MSN. While a case can be made that Ask is a third player, their share 2.14% of US searches (as reported by Hitwise) makes them so minor that they can be easily dismissed. Although there are other services, such as Wolfram Alpha, that fill useful niches, when it comes to mainstream text based search, Google and MSN powered search dominate the US market with a 97% share.
It seems stunning that Yahoo has given up trying to compete with Google’s search indexing and pay per click programs when one considers the search providers and technology Yahoo has acquired over the years. The following is a list of some of Yahoo’s search related acquisitions and estimated acquisition price. And this list would be larger if it included acquisitions made by companies that Yahoo acquired. Overture was on an acquisition binge in 2003 prior to being purchased by Yahoo. Overture’s acquisitions included Alta Vista and FAST (All The Web).
Yahoo’s Search Related Acquisitions
Year Company Value
1997 Net Controls $ 1,400,000
2002 Inktomi $ 235,000,000
2003 Overture $1,630,000,000
2006 Search Fox N/A
Combining Yahoo’s spending on acquiring search related technology companies and spending on in-house development, it seems likely that they spent over $2 billion on search technology. While Yahoo asserts that they are still a seach company, if indexing the Web has become such a gargantuan task that even with $2 billion in spending, Yahoo chooses to no longer continue to attempt to keep pace with Google, it seems questionable if any company other than Microsoft has the resources to do so in the US. Even Ask’s well funded parent company, IAC/Interactive Corp, with $3.7 billion in assets, is reluctant go toe to toe with Google.
From a lead generation standpoint, the reduction in search engines that matter from three down to two probably simplifies seach engine optimization and search engine marketing. Obviously, it is easier to focus on just two search engines. For smaller programs conserving resources by only targetting Google, it may now make sense to expand the effort to include MSN since it will also power Yahoo’s organic search and pay per click.