Better the Google You Know Than the Microsoft You Don't
Can a search-advertising alliance between Yahoo and Google possibly pass regulatory muster? We may soon find out.
Now that investor-tormentor Carl Icahn has filed a proxy slate to unseat Yahoo’s board with the intent, one way or another, to push the company back into merger negotiations with Microsoft (MSFT), an obviously panicked Yahoo (YHOO) is scrambling to pull together a search-ad deal with Google (GOOG).
The possibility of a search-ad outsourcing arrangement between the two companies was, in part, what caused Microsoft to lose its appetite for Yahoo. Could it cause Icahn to lose his as well? Seems doubtful. Even if, as sources close to the situation tell the New York Post, the deal is the sort of open-to-all-comers arrangement Yahoo and Google hope would pass regulatory scrutiny. Under its terms, a real-time auction system would be used to select the most lucrative ads for a given search query from among those sold by Yahoo, Google or anyone else that cares to participate. Structured in this way, the deal might not, as Microsoft has claimed in the past, consolidate over 90% of the search-advertising market in Google’s hands and draw the ire of antitrust regulators.
Instead it might consolidate, oh say … 89.99% in the search sovereign’s hands. Said Kevin Lee, chairman of search engine marketing firm Did-It, “Given the way the ecosystem is put together now, Google would probably be the winner in a vast majority of cases.”