The Long Haul to Capitalizing on Web Trends

Web companies often upend industries. But they can labor for years to fully make money on their revolutions.

Take Google Inc. When the Internet titan came onto the scene in the 1990s, the company first focused on building technologies for searching the Web before considering its advertising prospects, recalls Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer at Vivaki, the digital advertising company owned by Publicis Groupe SA.

It wasn’t until a competitor, GoTo.com, created a pay-for-placement search product in 1998 that Google got serious, he says. The way that service worked, a company would make a bid to appear at the top of a search results page then pay if a consumer clicked. Google launched a similar advertising product in 2000. The key difference was that the system took into account the relevance of the ad to decide its placement on the search engine results page, not just the amount that the advertiser paid.

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