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>>Posted to I-Search
a) Do you think Yahoo's future plans still include using google
technology or are they ... ? <<

IMHO, this will be decided soon. The Inktomi purchase has just been finalized in the past week or so. The search space at present is in flux with all of the consolidation. To further confuse matters MS yesterday announced a new focus on search and have hired 200 additional programmers to implement it. The articles I read specifically singled out paid listings whether that is PPC (Overture) possibly being replaced or LookSmart and Inktomi wasn't clear. What is clear is that there will be some major changes to MSN in the future.

MS also has a pretty good algo search in the indexing services on both NT server and the windows search (searches in windows explorer). It is I believe also the algo search on the Microsoft site. I have found this to provide pretty good results. The potential problems I see are scalability and a seemingly reliance on additional parameters in the search. A crawler could be done by the Inclusion partner for instance PositionTech.

As to Google there are a few factors which will influence the decision. Inktomi is now in house and have been working on a blended results package which is basically algo search (Inktomi) and PPC (Overture) at present but it makes sense that Yahoo! will take PPC inhouse like MSN may be doing. In the last quarterly results Yahoo! profit seemed to be directly attributable to the deal with Overture. If my income depended on one aspect of my business I know I'd prefer full control if at all possible.

Yahoo! did announce that since Google has been providing results user retention has shown a marked increase so if there is a change to Inktomi watching the user retention figures will be important since all other marketing initiatives by Yahoo! are based on user retention. By marketing initiatives I mean the paid services they have added in the past year and a half. So, IMHO it isn't a given that Google will be cut loose. Highly possible but not a for sure thing. Yahoo's! main priority is keeping users on the site. IMHO, Inktomi may need substantial upgrades to compete with Google in the relevancy of results. Therefore, since user retention is a big concern they may stand pat.

Another major consideration is why did Yahoo! buy Inktomi. I'm not convinced that it was solely for search technology. I believe Inktomi engineers and sales staff were also coveted. They have by far the best sales staff for sales of Inclusion and XML feeds. This is important since much of the consolidation is based on SE wanting to further monetize SERPs. Why not go after the best sales staff for converting the further monetization.

Inktomi engineers built the best SE pre-Google and have also built some other impressive search solutions which were sold in another deal. Inktomi's leadership in Inclusion combined with its ability to build good algo search technology (some bad Inktomi results are due to poor feed management) and blend it with PPC were IMHO, a big part of the Yahoo! decision to buy them.

One wonders why the renewal of the Google contract wasn't immediate? Why the recent concern about Google becoming too big and powerful? Did Yahoo! try to do a deal with Google failed and now all the big players see there is no chance to buy the best at rock bottom prices. That would be an explanation for the recent statements by founders of Google about a rumoured IPO. If Google is public they can no longer say no without outside approval.

>> b) How this will affect Inktomi listing prices in the future. (If I'm not mistaken Yahoo prices are *much* higher.) <<

Yes, but that is a comparison of apples to oranges. They are two distinctly different programs. Yahoo! is based on reviews Inktomi is either paid indexing or feeds which are based on CPC. The prominence of the Yahoo! directory when the change is made will have a great deal of influence on this. Presently it looks like Yahoo! has become aware there are major problems with the quality of the directory and de-emphasized it in the search.

Also keep in mind it isn't a given that they use **only** Inclusion remember that Inktomi is already merged with reviewed listings on MSN. LookSmart provides the reviewed listings on MSN. Yahoo! could also take the same route as LookSmart did and convert the program to CPC which has proven to be much more lucrative. Let's hope if they do go this route they do a better job than LookSmart did of grandfathering in the present client base. Yahoo blending directory and Inclusion shouldn't be a big surprise.

IMHO, their best solution might be a blend of Google, Inktomi Inclusion and Yahoo! directory. My point is that the Inktomi technology is very customizable and I don't think in the end it is an either or situation. Yahoo! could have likely done any of the deals recently done so why Inktomi? Note the deal between Google and Yahoo! is not exclusive so the above scenario is not out of the question contractually.

>> c) Wouldn't this be an excellent time to get listed in Inktomi .. if one isn't already listed? <<

It is a good idea regardless of industry consolidation. At PositionTech there are some savings right now if you do Fast and Teoma in addition to Inktomi. Do some on all and watch the results. If anything they provide good click and campaign analysis data.

There is also the chance of a price increase due to higher demand. Consolidation usually ends up in higher prices since there is less competition. It is quite likely in the end there will only be Google, Yahoo! and MSN and a few lesser lights like Ask Jeeves and LookSmart fighting for that 15% or so of searches the big three aren't providing.

The value of regular indexing IMHO, isn't fully realized by many in the industry. It speeds up the SEO process since you don't have to wait for refreshes of the index to see the results of changes to optimization of pages.

IMHO, Overture can do what they like with their changes but without either one of MSN or Yahoo! they are doomed. It doesn't help when they are also degrading ROI by increasing minimum bids and using "scumware" vendor Gator in their program. The lack of control over contextual ads and vendors like Gator only speed up the ROI degradation and increasing discontent over control of contextual ads.

You asked specifically about one deal but IMHO, they are all linked at the hip presently and they are all using this consolidation to become more competitive with Google and increase revenue. What one does in this changing landscape will affect all not just the one making a change.

These are really interesting developments for those who watch and are interested in the business and marketing models of the major portals. It seems that there is a major shift back to focusing on search which is long overdue and neccessary for those remaining to become long term viable businesses. The kicker is the one that was most focused on search (Google) is looking more like a portal and a direct competitor then it did even 6 months ago!

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