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Steel Cage Match - 4 Left Standing: Yahoo, Google, AskJeeves, and Overture.

 2:08 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

How do you feel it is going to effect marketing and the internet in general?



 9:43 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Perhaps OV has decided to make the purchase as it has realised the majority of internet searchers see Google as being the best search facility around - largely I guess because they operate a free inclusion model meaning that depth and quality of results is usually pretty good and not determined by advertising budgets, which rules out many great hobby/information sites.

As things stand they are dependent on other sites to drive traffic to their PPC listings. This reduces their margins and also introduces dependencies on others users. By establishing themselves as a great search engine in their own right they could build a good user base with some marketing making the most of all the brands they have.

I am hoping that OV would like to be considered a good search facility in terms of returning a large number of relevant results to achieve the above reason. I think it would be great if OV used AV and Fast technology to establish a first rate algo - allowing free inclusion along side PFI and perhaps incorporate the PPC listings along the lines of Google ad-words - so the pure search results don't start down on page 4.

I can't really see them doing that as it would only really bring level with Google, not actually offer much new, but in my opinion it would be a step in the right direction.


 11:05 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Fast? Altavista? Who?

Nothing's really changed.

Let's just hope M$ doesnt come along and by them all up. They have a history of letting other people come up with ideas...then they come in and buy up a great idea and turn it into a mediocre one. I don't think having to sign in with a Passport account to use a search engine is a good thing for all of us...lots of security/tracking issues there with a company with a VERY poor track record in that respect.


 11:12 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would guess that if Overture can take all the strong points of their service, AltaVista, and FAST and integrate them somehow into a "portal" and follow that up with a good marketing campaign they could be up to around 10-15% of the search market by the end of the year. Will that happen? Probably not. I don't see much of a change in the immediate future.

brotherhood of LAN

 11:13 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

my 0.02,

I guess the last few weeks brings a few of those "SE moral type" threads that come up on WW now and again. How much does SERP quality matter when companies are buying each other out left right and centre. Most of the reasons are nothing to do with SERP quality, more to do with the forces of business.

Google at the mo undoubtedly has the best setup for delivering quality results (the non-paid ones anyway), and the only thing that could stand in their way right now is the forces of businesss, and not the quality of SERP's. To me, google looks alot more vulnerable "from the outside", but in regards to me being a user, its still the #1, and in regards to getting traffic, its #1 referrer for many people too.

I think the "steel cage match" could and should get ugly......theres more room for change before the "perfect" results are delivered :)


 11:32 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the non-commercial content web is being left even further behind.

I couldn't agree more. <sigh>

My hope was that AlltheWeb would challenge Google in this arena leading to better and more useful methods for searching.

The big question is how long does Google keep their "user first" view of spidering and results going?


 12:05 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is where I would like a monopoly.

With respect to search engines: I wish there was just one. It would make life easier.

Where's microsoft when you need them?


 12:55 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

OV seems to make life a lot easier for Google:) by gobbling up the only competition to Google and mixing them all with the PPC basket OV stood for ... I can only see Google ruling the search and CPC (adwords select) market until another new incarnation emerges with totally free search and better search results. As long as Google is on top of getting the quality SERPs out, Google will continue to rule this market!.

With Google, you have the best of CPC and Search Results and a great BRAND that is virtually unstoppable in the near future and if you ask me contagious!.

OV seems to be FEELING the pressue and making the steps/moves of an eclipsing company does;) to help muddle the financial numbers with a bunch of acquisitions and go belly up!.


 1:21 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)
I've made up a new diagram showing who delivers results to who. Anyone who doesn't get dizzy looking at it wins the insanity award. http://www.faganfinder.com/search/ses.gif .

Criticism welcome; tell me if you see any mistakes. If anyone wants a larger image maybe I'll put it up.

Robert Charlton

 1:27 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is it possible that Overture will dump the free submissions at both AV and ATW, leaving only PFI at both, in an attempt to increase revenue.

Doesn't make sense to me. The FTC would be all over them.


 1:39 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

mfagan nice chart!

I didn't see any links for InfoSpace or are you calling them dead?

IMHO, the little guy is on life support and the prognosis is not good. Maybe 6 months tops, then well... unless you got the money honey, the dance is over.

Something "super machine" like is going to have to step up or it's lights out for Mom and Pop.



 1:44 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I didn't see any links for InfoSpace or are you calling them dead?

Its there, on the bottom right: InfoSpace along with Dogpile, Excite, Metacrawler, and WebCrawler

I didn't include everything of course; iWon isn't there, nor is Zeal's search even though I included Zeal listings and software. I don't think I excluded anything of much importance though.


 2:09 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

OV just bought 2 very good search engines. Combine the two and create a free submission search engine that could compete head on with Google. The non-commercial internet has NOT come to an end. You cannot compete with Google if you allow paid listing to make your index less useful for the searcher. I think OV will just copy the Google model. Produce a killer relevant index full of free info, news, etc. and have ads on the side. People go there for the free search and buy from seeing the ads on the side ala Google. How many people go to www.overture.com to search? None- becuase by itself its a useless search, Its only useful in the form of ads off the side of a REAL search engibe.

they make 100% rev on more of their PPC now, not just a percentage. ...the Yahoo situation is the most interesting .. how they handle that will be v interesting.

I see 4 players in the future - Y! Google and OV, all with pretty close to the same model that Google pioneered.


 2:41 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see 4 players in the future - Y! Google and OV

Chiyo I only count 3, Y1=1, Google=2 and OV=3, what is number 4?

Don't tell me let me guess



 3:18 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think there is going to be some significant morphing and branching in the information structure. Part of that will be caused by clustering technology applications such as Vivisimo. Part of the branching will be web based research applications like Questia. Lastly, there is a wave of XML based web applications on the cusp of development.

So, while the directories and engines are self important today, they are going to be changing form in the near future to become vendors for these new applications.

N00b spoken here. This is my first post anywhere on this subject.


 3:31 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

sorry sparrow .. only 3.

As far as dedicated search engines go, MSN does not really rate as it is still really a sub brand, same for AOL. Ask Jeeves is getting bigger but is an odds-on for merging into one of the 3 biggies any time soon. This is of course all conjecture!

My key point though which im 100% sure of, is that this is NOT the start of the end of the non-commercial web. It fact it may well be a good thing, with the web promotion moving fast to the end reality - that if you are selling something commercial on the Web yes you do will need to pay, but if you are offering something free, substantive, uniqiue,and useful yes, the non-commercial web just got smarter.

Its all about grabbing eyeballs by providing a non-commercial highly useful search tool for people looking for info, and displaying your ads completely separate "down the side" for people who are looking for commercial solutions. Its what Google has done for a year or so, and what Y! is showing strong signs of doing, and Im pretty sure what Overture is going to do. Google started off as a pure search engines and added PPC on the side. Overture started as a PPC service provider and will add pure search as their own fully owned portals/search engine.In the end i think the basic models of all 3 will be pretty similar in principle though of course significant differences in look and format and delivery.

Visit Thailand

 4:07 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I feel we could be seeing the emergence of two things, a free search similar to google and a commercial search.

You could go to the home page of AV for example and you could then choose to have only commercial results or free results with ads.

It may even be possible to put the two results side by side on the results page.

That way searchers could if they are wanted go to only those companies that are paying the engine.


 4:59 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

It is possible OV is trying to copy Google's model now ... but I think it is too late to catch on big G!.

If OV was under such a pressure from Google Adwords Select (which I believe it is ..), the best OV could have done it getting bought by Google (essentially selling off their remaining distribution channels)!.

Now with the recent moves by OV, it has made a lot easier for G to move and close in on deals with current/remaining OV distribution channels ...!


 5:01 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

******I feel we could be seeing the emergence of two things, a free search similar to google and a commercial search.******

That's why Overture paid about $200,000,000 to provide free search.....I don't think so...One thing we could be sure...Free is over or overture.


 6:17 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>That's why Overture paid about $200,000,000 to provide free search.....I don't think so...One thing we could be sure...Free is over (f)or overture. <<

And so will be overture.

Have to respectfully disagree.

Who would go to a commercial search? The reach is very limited. Only those looking to buy something.

Who goes to overture.com?

Thats why they needed to buy some general "free" type properities.. to compete with Google you need to offer something for the vast majority of people on the web who are looking for info. The only model that really works is to sell "off the side" or top, or bottom, or wherever. you have to get those eyeballs before you start selling. Its well wirth their investment to get 100% of the PPC revenue from Fast and AV rather than just a percentage, and synergise all these things together with the smart guys they just bought, and this was the only way to make a challenge to Google.

Im not saying they will keep the AV and Fast or ATW brands, they may do so, they may create another completely dfferent mainstream search engine for cobbling it altogether and doing some extra work to make it special.

Bootom Line. You CAN have a search engine that is completely moneitized or comemrcially oriented - but your reach will never even get close to Google. And there are other "clean searches" still bubbling at the bottom - Teoma, Wisenut, Look etc, are all waiting in the wings for an opprotunity. The fact is there will always be a mass need for free submission relevance only based index, and Google has proven you can make a cash return on it.

Again, this may well be GOOD for free submission engines, if only for those with primarily non-commercial and content filled sites.


 6:48 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Chiyo. Few people want to search advertisements. People want to search information. But, the SE's want people to find advertisements because that means money. This is the fundamental contradiction that drives the development of the industry. Understand this and you understand:

1. Why the SE's try so many tricks to embed their ads in the SERPS and to hide the differences.
2. Why SE's that get too desperate for money only end up cutting off the legs of their business.
3. Why crawled search cannot be eliminated.
4. Why SEO will continue to be a fruitful activity.
5. Why SE's will continue to attempt to undercut and marginalize SEO activity.


 7:22 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I feel we could be seeing the emergence of two things, a free search similar to google and a commercial search.

We have that already Google (free) and MSN (all ads).

Within Google we have it also - Google and Froogle.

I think Overture is desparate, two dropped deals and they are toast. They don't even have to be dropped, just pushed to give up even more or the syndication take. With LS floating around MSN and MSN featured listings, and Inktomi still in the picture, MSN can just about name the percentage they want from Overture results.

YAHOO! probably could as well if they fiddle with Inktomi a little bit.

Almost nobody (in the US anyway) uses AltaVista or FAST for anything as measured by the percentage of referrals in the logs of most sites. That is not going to change just because Overture now owns them.

If those results suddenly started appearing on MSN or AOL and were branded FALOVER or what ever the new combo is called then they might see an increase in marketshare. People are lazy, unless there is a compelling reason to leave Google why would anyone currently using them who doesn't really care as long as they find what they want go anywhere else.

Maybe Overture admires AV and their business strategy. Start out doing one thing and doing it really well. Get distracted and try to go "portalize", then crash, then burn, then stagger around for a while, then get acquired for peanuts.

If every engine out there today went pay for something, it would be big news at least in the online media and a new kid on the block would get a ton of free PR and buzz, as well as a boost in popularity.

Like someone else said in another thread, one company not very good at search bought another company not very good at search and even worse at business strategy. Then snapped up another engine that might be ok at search.


 8:58 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

interesting point skibum (and others). Agreed, if ov lost a couple of partners they were toast agreed. So to avoid losing them they bought 'em. Now they have guaranteed placement in some portals and SEs for their advertisers. If they lose Y! and MSN then there could still be a prob as i guess these are the major drivers, which makes me think Y! buying OV is not as silly as it first sounds. Desperation or good strategy? Maybe a mixture of both. But one thing is for sure, unless they have overcapitalised, they are looking far more secure today than a week ago.

And google has just lost the race for a couple of propsective partners for Adwords.


 2:08 pm on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Chiyo. Few people want to search advertisements. People want to search information.

I agree, too. That's exactly why Google is so popular. People who are looking for INFORMATION go to Google because it simply provides the most RELEVANT results. For example, if you do a search for "configuring computer program xyz", you don't want the SERPs be filled with titles like "BUY PROGRAM XYZ HERE", "CHEAPEST PRICES FOR XYZ CDS" or something. In this case a small hobby site hosted by a free webhost may provide the most useful information, not the guys that spend $$$ for getting on the SERPs.

The other search engines can try making money with PFI and stuff, but if nobody uses their search, it'll be pretty hard to make money. And nobody will use their search if they don't provide relevant results when people search for INFORMATION.

I've heard many non-tech people saying "I don't use anything but Google. With Google, I can find what I'm looking for. The other search engines deliver just crap."

That's why I don't see anybody threatening Google for a while, no matter how much money they spend.


 3:38 pm on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Turning the spotlight away from us and to the client, I feel that SEO is becoming a hard(er) proposition to sell to clients - particularly if they don't want to get into the PFC spiral.

I am personally going to keep a very close watch on the way things will pan out in the next few months, with a possible scenario whereby SEO becomes just a complimentary, rather than key standalone channel, for a clients wider e-marketing/promotional strategy.

The proposition and channels for a site being returned following an information search based on 'relevance and quality of information' against 'the highest bidder' is becoming narrower and narrower :(


 3:40 pm on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

If OV ads were only syndicated on AV and FAST and their other smaller partners, OV would probably be a in tight race with FindWhat for king of the vaporizing large portal pay per click syndication market.

Long term, Overture's best prospects might be working with news sites and others that get a respectable amount of traffic but nowhere near what MSN or YAHOO! gets - CNN, News.com, abcnews.com, Internet.com stuff like that.

If there's an extra hundred million (or maybe even a few) to be made by YAHOO! or MSN by taking PPC inhouse, Findwhat or other smaller PPC vendors could be acquisition targets. Then OV is stuck with 2 engines without any traffic, its own search results that can't stand alone, takes a major hit in revenue, and doesn't have the cash to build tech or brand for it's new toys.


 7:15 pm on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Microsoft is the joker in this pack. It is not like them to stay out of this important space any longer. They will probably make a purchase soon.
Teoma appears to be the only one with technology to match Google. AV/FAST/INKTOMI don't have the technology to catch up with Google. Technology is important. As you can see from other threads, Google has all kinds of patents being filed by their R&D department. The only one that matches Google's results is Teoma, thus it has technology; it's only problem being that it's crawler has not gone as deep as Google's

Will MS buy ASK for Teoma & FAST? Might do so. Will it buy Overture? It should, makes sense. Then it will have the equal of Google: great results + paid listings.

We will then see a tri-polar order:
Google - MSN - Yahoo

In terms of pure search, I see Yahoo going nowehere. Yahoo has features such as finance, shopping, mail etc. that prompt usage, but search is a "thing" in it's own. So, Yahoo will probably falter somewhere.

I also expect another search engine to come up sometime soon. The rules of the market say that whenever somebody is making a lot of profits, another player will come-in and try and muscle a share of it.

2004: Google-MSN-Yahoo

2006: GOogle-MSN-New Player


 1:09 am on Feb 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

According to Inktomis Quarterly Report (SEC form 10-Q) of February 14, 2003 - Quote "In February 2003, Microsoft extended its agreement with us to provide Web search services through December, 2005" So MSN doesn't have to find a new partner - it already has the yahoo/inktomi backfill; and it already has the Look$smart paid listings

I think M$N will get closer to Look$mart (who also - don't forget - own Wi$enut).

Then we'd have

And we've already got the Overture/FAST-alltheweb/Altavista entity - which should now be rebranded



But seriously - why wouldn't MSN look to its existing business relationships for a solution first - rather than just running off and buying someone else? Is that what we all do with existing suppliers everyday?



 10:27 am on Feb 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see no big change. After an initial panic ...ahhh, nooo, change... it will ruin me...

(one day my first thought will be ...opportunity, as it should be :))

Then I thought, Where are the customers?
Ans: mostly at Google. How can Overture get hold of them now?

1 Advertising
2 Better results

They can try both, but Google can do that too.

The little Guy can still do OK. Look at the worst current scenario, sites that have been taken over by corporates, eg aol Shopping. The results are awful, the prices high, and often, to compete, you have to make a big loss on your first sale as a merchant. Bad news.

But how many people shop there?
How many will shop there in 12 months time?

Just those happy with Kays and Argos. (UK only, read cheap catalogues, with a declining market). A market for sure, but not all of it.

It has been said many times, people search for information. Google works, this will not shift the balance.

My 2p.



 7:49 am on Mar 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I feel the day Microsoft will move in and only leave one player left standing in this field is a little bit closer.

The Steel cage match is not about any of those named (Yahoo, Google, AskJeeves, and Overture). It is about whether any of the contenders named can survive against MS. My opinion is they can't.....money talks and MS has more spare cash than the rest have in Market Cap.

Microsoft's spare $40 billion will buy them all at current stock prices and leave $28 billion over for something else!

Prediction: Bill is going on a shopping spree once he is convinced the market has hit a low, which should be sometime shortly after the Iraq issue is determined.

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