SEO News

Search Engine Revenues

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This page lists articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web relating to revenues earned by search engines and other financial issues.

NOTE: Article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline. Also, some very old articles flagged "no longer online" might indeed be online -- but the former URL no longer resolves, and it's not worth the time investment for me to try and personally track down these down versus spending time producing new content.

Jump to articles from:
Sept. 2004 Onward
Jan-Aug 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001
2000 - 1998 - 1997 & Earlier

Articles From Jan-Aug 2004

Search Engine Executive Roundtable, Part 2
SearchDay, Aug. 26, 2004

How do the search engines view search marketing firms? What are the growth drivers of the industry? And Is the search 'bubble' going to pop soon? Danny Sullivan continues his discussion with four top search executives. Also links to Part 1.

Google Changes Estimated Share Price To Below $100
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 18, 2004

Google advises potential investors that the estimated price per share is now $85-$95 -- and fewer shares will be sold.

Here's What I Would Pay for Google, Aug. 11, 2004

Numerous people have asked me how much I would pay for a share of Google. First of all, I don't buy search stocks to avoid conflicts of interest. Secondly, if I did, I honestly have no idea. Half the time, it seems like no one really knows what a company is worth period. Lots of people seem to want to compare Google to Yahoo, since they are both search-oriented companies that sell listings. But Yahoo isn't exactly the same as Google. In addition, things like the number of shares outstanding, share splits and so on all seems to be lost in the muddle of comparison. But I did find this article a nice walkthrough of trying to get some type of valuation. Could be completely off, but at least the process is interesting.

Paid search growth may slow
Reuters, Aug. 8, 2004

Paid search spending isn't going to grow as rapidly as in the past, says a new report from Jupiter Research. Nevertheless, the same report estimates that paid search will double from $2.6 billion spent this year to $5.5 billion by 2009. Meanwhile, an analyst in the story fails to understand that Google already earns beyond paid search -- since its contextual ads aren't search! But the concern that some will want Google to diversify outside of paid advertising overall is valid.

Online Ad Spending Poised to Surpass Magazines, Yellow Pages
MediaPost, July 28, 2004

Online ad spend will meet print ad spend in 2007, then surpass it in 2008, Jupiter Research estimates. The prime driver? Search, and more money being paid for existing inventory, rather than in growth:

Google's IPO Pricing
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 26, 2004

Google announces details about its auction style IPO and expected starting prices of stocks

Report Says Search Needs More Inventory
Search Engine Watch, July 21, 2004

A new report suggests that a lack of supply may drive prices so far up that it slows the growth of search advertising.

Growing a Successful Search Marketing Business
SearchDay, July 13, 2004

Building a search marketing company holds the promise of both meaningful profits and a lot of fun -- but it takes hard work and some savvy business sense to be truly successful. This version of the article for Search Engine Watch members offers additional tips and strategies for search marketing professionals, including how to deal with undesirable clients, dealing with ad agencies, and crucial staff positions to consider.

Ask Jeeves searches for profits, gets results
San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2004

Profile on Ask Jeeves working to secure and grow its position among the majors of search. I still think the strategy of running multiple web properties will be tough to pull off. Others haven't had great success with it. One property tends to end up as the favored child. With Excite, the WebCrawler and Magellan properties ended up getting neglected. Lycos left HotBot to fester for ages. But there's no doubt the acquisition of ISH has helped Ask immediately gain a larger share. Some more discussion on this over here: Following the Ratings - Ask Jeeves Moving Up. And more coverage of Ask developments also here, Ask Jeeves CEO: Technology Matters in Web Search,

Seasonality Descends on Searches
Wall St. Journal, July 9, 2004,,SB108933011309259323,00.html

Yahoo says paid listing revenue and query volume showed no major rise from the previous quarter, causing financial analysts to fear the paid search boom is over. Yahoo says it's a seasonal thing. Apparently, it hasn't been noticed as strongly in the past because of other factors that have pushed growth up. More coverage also here.

Forging Yahoo's Future
Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2004,,SB108804182688246225,00.html

Interview with Yahoo CEO and chairman Terry Semel, touching on the need to own its own search technology and avoiding countering the "do no evil" mantra of Google with his own "what's good for consumers" thought.

Nightmare on Madison Avenue
Fortune, June 14, 2004,15114,650390,00.html

Search marketing, arguably the hottest form of internet advertising, isn't mentioned once in this long write-up on the challenges traditional ad agencies face given an onslaught of new media outlets and tighter cost watching. But search will certainly play its part in pulling the big TV ad spend away into new areas of advertising.

Google making overseas ad push to boost revenue
San Jose Mercury News, June 8, 2004

A look at the battle by Google and others to grow revenues by focusing on markets outside the US. Interesting news about Google investing in a local Chinese search engine, as a means to finally book profits earned in China. Like the quote from the Chinese internet expert saying many Chinese internet users still don't know of Google. So explain again why China found it necessary to block Google back in 2002? More on the Google investment in Baidu is also here:

Owning the Standard for Search Engines
TheStreet, May 26, 2004

One of the most frightening things in writing about search has been to watch some financial analysts wade in and offer advice that simply leaves you thinking they know nothing about search. It's frightening, because in areas I don't know, the same people may sound knowledgeable to me.

Here's a good example. The argument is that Google may establish a search "standard" in the way that Microsoft has IE as a standard browser, eBay is a standard for those who want to auction or VHS is a standard for video tape. Following this logic, it's argued that Google's search algorithm may be some type of standard that produces results that other search engines somehow can't match.

Hey, the search algorithms aren't that different. And advertisers don't care who has the "leading" search technology. They'll go to any site that has a large number of quality prospects. Google by no means is the only "standard" here. And designing pages just for Google? Heck, it's hard enough to get many web sites to consider basic tips for search engine optimization period. The "tipping point" for having a standard is a few years away? A standard for what? Web search? Local search? Personalized search? Accurately predicting when and where to mix these and other databases together?

Recent Domain Name Registrations That Include the Word "Google" (May 2004)
ResourceShelf, May 25, 2004

More cashing in on Google's brand almost entirely by companies other than Google registering domain names using the word Google. Highlights include names such as,,, and No doubt Google's lawyers may go after some of these names eventually -- perhaps that's what those who registered are hoping for.

Search Engines Are Powering Ad Revenue
LA Times, May 24, 2004

Most readers know how how paid listings have propelled search engines into money-makers. But this story has a nice look back at how GoTo, now Overture, made this all possible. Some quibbles, though. Google realized its users wanted a blend of paid and unpaid results? More like Google realized they needed ads to make money and added these at the end of 1999, an early date that's often forgotten. AdWords came in 2000 and later migrated into a cost-per-click based program: Meanwhile, an ad agency tells us advertisers tried paid search ads because the dotcom downturn made them more willing to gamble on it. Please. Search engine optimization -- traffic from free listings -- had long been in demand because of the recognized quality traffic it could bring. Search engine advertising provided that same quality traffic along with guaranteed placement. It was a no brainer for people to do.

Atlas DMT Launches Search, Renames GoToast
ClickZ, May 24, 2004

GoToast becomes Atlas OnePoint and integrates search tracking into its overall ad tracking system.

Microsoft turns its might to growing field of search
AP, May 17, 2004

Profile of Microsoft's intent to win in search against Google and Yahoo. A few specifics, mostly stuff you've probably read in other stories like this before.

Former Overture MD joins WSPS as chief executive
DMBulletin, May 17, 2004

Former Overture managing director and president Nick Hynes has taken up a new position as CEO of search engine marketing firm WSPS.

In Google's Shadow, Ask Jeeves Grows, May 17, 2004

Profile on how Ask Jeeves thinks it will survive and thrive despite the search battle between Google, Yahoo and Microsoft happening around it.

Yahoo to boost search
San Francisco Chronicle, May 14, 2004

Yahoo tells analysts to expect great things in search, saying it has 50 different search projects in the works though gave few details.

Return To The Sad Days Of More Than A Search Engine?
SearchDay, May 14, 2004

Yahoo says it is "more than a search engine" in the same week Google adds a new portal feature. Are the sad days of search being a neglected child about to return?

Google Isn't Keeping Quiet After IPO Filing
Washington Post, May 20, 2004

Normally, companies that are about to go public often keep announcements at a minimum because of a legal "quiet period." Not so with Google. Communication and outreach from the company has been largely normal, though the occasional "we can't talk during the quiet period" responses are creeping in. Let's hope that doesn't get used as an excuse to dodge legitimate questions, in the way former search player RealNames did:

Google Cover Story
BusinessWeek, May 3, 2004

Wide-ranging look at the challenges Google faces from competitors. Much of this will already be known to regular readers of this newsletter, but the article provides a good refresher. The Search Scrum graphic is terrible in giving Google the "edge" when it comes to advertisers, because Google has more than twice those of Yahoo. According to what numbers? Why Google's own. Both Yahoo and Google have tons of advertisers and more important, most search advertisers do them both because reach is unduplicated. Story also has links to Q&As with Google cofounder Larry Page (good questions, but no revealing answers) and CEO Eric Schmidt.

Google IPO To Happen, Files For Public Offering
SearchDay, April 29, 2004

As many expected, Google filed to go public today. In this story, a breakdown of facts and figures from the financial information the company has now published for the first time.

Search Has Found Itself
Washington Post, April 28, 2004

You've seen this story before about the growth in revenues for paid search ads. But often forgotten are the search marketing firms that are also growing. Case in point, the mention of search marketing firm WebSourced looking to earn $15 million in revenue this year.

Digital Impact Plans Search Marketing Service, April 28, 2004

Email marketing company Digital Impact sees a future in search -- and plans to add search marketing services later this year.

IAB Reports Ad Revenue Up 21 Percent Due To Sharp Increases In Search, Rich Media
MediaPost, April 22, 2004

Internet ad revenue rose 21 percent in 2003 to $7.3 billion, according to new figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Keyword search was said to lead growth, making up $2.6 billion or a third of the total. Unclear is whether contextual ads -- which are not search -- are counted as part of this.

Microsoft: Built From Scratch, The Interface Migrates to the Web
Searchblog, April 21, 2004

Fresh from a visit to Microsoft, John Battelle feels that Microsoft's late jump into search means they can fly high unfettered by past ideas and that MSN will be the company's way to preserve the operating system dominance it currently enjoys, in a time when desktops may become disconnected from the actual hardware we use (for more on that, see Welcome To The Google Desktop)

The Search Engine Wars
NPR, April 12-16, 2004

Good, five-part radio series that you can listen to online explaining how we got to the current interest in search.

SEC Probe Halts Mamma's March, April 6, 2004

Mamma's stock has been hot -- so hot that the US Security and Exchange Commission has started an informal inquiry into its rise.

The Secret Source Of Google's Power Weblog, April 4, 2004

Rich Skrenta, a cofounder of the Open Directory and new news site Topix, ponders whether the giant network of cheap computers Google has built might translate into an entirely new computing platform.

Marchex is Seattle's first Internet IPO in 4 years
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter, March 31, 2004

Marchex raised $26 million by going public in March (one rumor I heard was that the company name stands for March exit). The company was founded by former Go2Net/InfoSpace executives. It owns Enhance Interactive, the recently renamed ah-ha paid listings service. Enhance also provides paid inclusion listings to various InfoSpace web sites, such as Dogpile. Marchex also owns search engine marketing firm TrafficLeader, which resells paid inclusion and paid placement listings, as well as provides other services. (permalink)

Baidu president takes on Google
Shenzhen Daily, March 29, 2004

Profile of Robin Le, president of, a major Chinese search engine, and how the service hopes to succeed against Google and other competitors.

The Grownup at Google
Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2004,,SB108051189603067300-H9jeoNjlad3oJ2mbXyIaK6Gm5,00.html

Q&A with Google chair and CEO Eric Schmidt, on formalizing Google without killing creativity and spirit, the "do no evil" philosophy, hiring, making decisions in cooperation with Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, working independently of them and not needing to IPO in order to raise cash.

Microsoft Concedes Misstep in Search Market
eWeek, March 25, 2004,1759,1554638,00.asp

Earlier this year, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates confessed that his company was behind in search and vowed to catch up with Google (and though not said, also Yahoo). Now CEO Steve Ballmer says the company should have done more earlier, as well. He also expects to have the crawler-portion complete within 12 months, but it will take longer to develop a paid listings service. IE -- expect to see Yahoo's crawler-based results disappear first, then Overture's paid listings further down the line. (permalink) Files for $75M IPO, March 26, 2004 -- formerly DealTime -- has filed for a public offering that might raise $75 million. (permalink)

Google Facing Public Filing as it Grows
CBS, March 23, 2004

Revisiting the issue that Google may have to share details of its finances regardless of whether it goes public, because of the number of stockholders and amount of assets it has. Barron's Online raised this back in October. wins name game
Globe & Mail, March 22, 2004

Mamma changes its name to reflect its search focus and sees the company's value go up 200 percent. But analysts warn too much hype is driving up the company's shares. (permalink)

AOL got Google warrants in 2002 -filing
Forbes, March 18, 2004

Flash back to 2002, and there were some people surprised that AOL dumped Overture and Inktomi in place of Google. Overture suggested Google was taking a loss and also dismissed the idea that having good editorial results for partners was necessary (something it flip-flopped on a year later, when buying AltaVista and AllTheWeb).

Now it appears that AOL gained the right to purchase 1.9 million preferred shares of Google for $22 million. John Battelle estimates selling these might bring in $200 million.

I'm sure the stock warrants sweetened the deal and gave what Google cofounder Sergey Brin described at the time as "competitive monetization."

Feds slap cuffs on Google stock scammer
The Register, March 12, 2004

Google hasn't announced IPO plans, but that didn't stop someone from allegedly selling "friends and family" stock options in Google. The man claimed to have such options to sell and made over $500,000 before being arrested by the FBI.

LookSmart's First Quarter Expectations Rise
ClickZ, March 11, 2004

LookSmart raises revenue projections for the first quarter of this year to $21-$23 million, up from $16-18 million. Listing sales are growing, layoffs have helped and a new agreement with MSN to use LookSmart's listings "at its discretion" have helped.

Search upstarts storm Google's gates, March 11, 2004

There's gold in them thar search hills, so go search young company! Nice recap of the many smaller search players out there, all hoping to cash in on search.

Who Wants to be Bought Out?
About Web Search Guide, March 11, 2004

Neglected in the rush to cash in on search has been the role of search engine marketing companies. But attention is now being focused on them as potential acquisitions by ad agencies and others realizing they need a way into search advertising that they long neglected. Thoughts on what may come from Jennifer Laycock, feeling inspired after attending a track on the subject at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in New York.

A question to ask Jeeves
CNN Money, March 10, 2004

Who wins from the Ask Jeeves purchase of Interactive Search Holdings? Certainly ISH, which made $150 million in cash for an original $10 million investment. Whether the purchase will be a stopgap to keep Ask Jeeves on the search radar screen or a harbinger of future growth remains to be seen.

Search engines: Real profits, real stocks
MSN Money, March 10, 2004

Fast rising stock prices make search seem like a return to the dotcom bubble of 1999. But analysts say the fact that many search companies have actual revenues, rather than simply potential, puts the stocks on surer footings.

WebSourced parent raises $2.75M
Triangle Business Journal, March 10, 2004

The parent company of search engine marketing firm WebSourced raises money through a stock sale in order to retire debt and raise capital.

Busy Week For
ClickZ, March 5, 2004

Mamma plans to acquire an email marketing/popup-under firm, adds new advertising features and sees its stock skyrocket after announcing a fourth quarter profit.

MAMA fires up 1999 mentality
CBS MarketWatch, March 3, 2004

A close look at some of's financials, in an effort to decide, hot stock or daytrader dream? Answer? Hard to say either way, it seems.

Commentary: Google's soft spot
Forrester Research, March 2, 2004

I started a long point-by-point analysis of this commentary, because I disagree with many of its statements and conclusions. I may come back to that in the next newsletter, if I have time to do a proper edit of my comments. But in short: Microsoft already has desktop search integration, and that hasn't kept people from going to Google or Yahoo. Who will "win" here isn't certain. Google isn't a portal, and that's been its strength. But if it needs to be a portal, it seems short-sighted to assume it can't compete with Yahoo. And the idea that Google will win the ad network battle is weak. Google has a near split with Overture now. As long as the audiences remain unduplicated, I'd expect Overture will continue to remain important.

Sullivan: No One Will Win Search War
ClickZ, March 2, 2004

In my keynote at the recent Search Engine Strategies show, I discussed how I don't feel there will be any single "winner" in the search wars. Instead, I believe that we'll have major search engines in the way we have major television networks, and despite gains and losses, they'll all survive. I also feel we'll have a variety of small, independent players surviving in the way we have cable television channels that thrive.

I also urged that if Yahoo is going to embark on a new chapter in paid inclusion, it get off on the right foot by providing some type of simple disclosure of such links.

Finally, I predicted that instead of purchasing keywords, we'll eventually buy concepts that relate to an audience we want -- such as someone looking to buy a sofa. We'll pay a price based on the perceived value of that lead, not based on the exact words that lead uses to find us. Another take on the keynote is here.

Google's Page 'dismayed' by IPO speculation
Reuters, Feb. 27, 2004,39020369,39147420,00.htm

Google cofounder Larry Page speaks about the Google IPO -- to remind that what's being reported as fact is not being confirmed by Google and to express disquiet over many of the things speculated.

Yahoo keeping close tabs on social networking-CEO
Reuters, Feb. 26, 2004

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel says his company is watching social networking services like Friendster (and presumably Google's Orkut) closely but doesn't yet see the business model in them.

Google gurus join Forbes billionaire club
Reuters, Feb. 26, 2004

Forbes officially declares Google's cofounders to be billionaires.

Microsoft commercial-search chief departs, Feb. 25, 2004

A blow to all those who subscribe to the Microsoft will bowl over Google and Yahoo in the search game theory. Just weeks after gaining Paul Ryan, the former chief technology officer at Overture, Ryan's quietly departed. This follows on New York Times report that Microsoft lost a key vice president involved with building its crawler technology to Google. Want to fill either of the two openings? Microsoft Search is still hiring, and interestingly apparently for many of the same jobs when this page was posted last year. Google, well-staffed already, continues to hire plenty as well. And Yahoo has 255 spots open at the moment, including one job to be a directory editor/surfer for Yahoo Canada.

Startups seek new ways to search the Net
AP, Feb. 24, 2004

Search is hot, so new companies are entering the space and hoping to find a niche between Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.

DoubleClick Plans Search-Bid Tool, Feb. 24, 2004

DoubleClick purchased Aquantive/ATLAS in December. Now it plans to release its own bid management tool later this year.

The Search Engine That Isn't a Verb, Yet
New York Times, Feb. 22, 2004

Profile on Yahoo CEO Terry Semel and his company's efforts to regain the crown of search king that it once held.

The Google Guys
ABC News, Feb. 20, 2004

Short profile on Google's cofounders.

Google and Newspapers
Editor & Publisher, Feb. 17, 2004

Wide-ranging interview with Google cofounder Sergey Brin, focusing on issues relating to newspapers, such as whether Google plans to compete for classified ads money (Answer: no).

Has Paid Search Peaked?
eMarketer, Feb. 12, 2004

Despite the headline, this article's charts show search spending continuing to rise -- as I would well expect it to. Some more bar charts for those who want numbers on the growth of search engine marketing. This write-up has some more details from the report.

Googlescape: Are we headed for Bubble II?, Feb. 13, 2004

Forrester's CEO George Colony says Google's not worth $15 billion, but $6 billion might be seen as reasonable. Elsewhere, he argues that Google is vulnerable because search has "no barriers to entry." The proof of this is how AltaVista almost immediately lost its traffic to Google, Colony writes. Yep, over six months in 2001, Google sucked in AltaVista traffic -- as well as traffic from others. See what I've long called the Google-AltaVista "X" because of the way the traffic lines cross via the December 2000-May 2001 Media Metrix ratings page listed here.

If there's no barrier to search, then why didn't all the other search engines around at this time do well? Because there IS a serious technological barrier to building a system that can index the web, provide relevant results and handle large amounts of searches. If it was so easy, why does Microsoft itself not expect to have a system going until the end of this year, at the earliest? That's almost two years after it began efforts to build its own crawler. Again, the answer is that it's not so easy.

The search barrier indeed exists. Anyone new will have a tough time breaking through it. And should they do so, they'll only succeed if the others out there are clearly worse than the newcomer. AltaVista would not have lost traffic to Google if it hadn't neglected search. Don't expect Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Ask Jeeves -- the major technology players in the space -- to repeat that mistake.

FindWhat Posts Quarterly Profit, Feb. 9, 2004

FindWhat posts a profit of $3.5 million for the quarter and is on track to nearly break the $100 million mark in annual revenue for the year. An agreement to merge with Espotting is also back on.

Microsoft not ready to battle with Google
Seattle Times, Feb. 9, 2004

I've written before that Microsoft versus Google and Yahoo is not the same as Microsoft versus Netscape. Here's another view that agrees with what I've said, that in search, its not necessarily another Microsoft walkover. But the threat of Microsoft coming up with a great, integrated search utility remains.

LookSmart Beats Street, But Lowers 2004, Feb. 6, 2004

LookSmart projects a loss for 2004.

Google CEO: "An IPO is not on my agenda", Jan. 29, 2004,39024667,39118043,00.htm

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says there's no IPO "on my agenda right now." Rumors are that investment banks are saying to wait in hopes of an even bigger offering in the future.

Audit results move Google closer to IPO
New York Times, Jan. 27, 2004

Unnamed people close to Google say it has cleared an audit, a necessary step if the company plans to go public.

Yahoo Calls It Quits in Denmark, Jan. 26, 2004

Yahoo is closing down operations in Scandinavia. Seems more than 70 percent of people in that region use rather than local Yahoos anyway.

LookSmart CEO Out, Jan. 21, 2004

LookSmart's looking for a new CEO. LookSmart Australia's CEO has taken over temporarily. He's got some free time on his hands, since LookSmart Australia is being sold to a local yellow pages firm there:,4057,8452263%5E15306,00.html

Google Fans Fill Web With Buzz Over IPO
Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2004

Will Google change after it goes public? Speculation and thoughts.

Google's House of Cards
ClickZ, Jan. 5, 2004

Advertisers and publishers are upset at Google due to falling ROI on ads and lost rankings from free listings. Advertisers also continue to want AdSense offered as a separate purchase and at a lower cost. Is this Google's House of Cards, where large revenues may suddenly disappear. Could be. It could also be an opportunity for the company to finally do what advertisers want and win back some lost friends by rolling out a separate program.

By the way, I'd counter that Google is indeed in danger of losing its sterling reputation with users. Twice over the holiday break, I've picked up popular magazines discussing how Google is losing its relevancy. Some of the arguments were incorrect, but readers may not understand this. Instead, the word of mouth going around is that Google has lost its shine -- and upset advertisers and web site publishers will only add fuel to looking for proof of this.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs to Manage Google IPO
Bloomberg, Jan. 5, 2004

Google's still not confirming anything, but bankers are leaking the news that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group are to handle its rumored IPO.

FindWhat Adds New Division, New Tool, Jan. 5, 2004

FindWhat completes its purchase of Miva, a maker of ecommerce and shopping cart software. The company also rolls out "IntelliMap," a broad matching tool that groups similar words, misspellings and punctuations together under a single term.

Jupiter: Tough Year Ahead for Paid Inclusion, Jan. 2, 2003

Paid inclusion revenues will dip in 2004, according to Jupiter Research, due to the dropping of LookSmart by MSN. Revenues are expected to rise in subsequent years, but by how much depends on how well paid inclusion is embraced by Yahoo and MSN.

Articles From 2003

Some See Google Dutch Auction in 2004
Reuters, Dec. 21, 2003

Will Google do a "Dutch Auction," which is less lucrative for bankers and their special friends? Adopts New Moniker, Dec. 18, 2003

Second-tier paid listings provider changes its name to Enhance Interactive.

How Search Engines Make Money
SearchDay, Dec. 16, 2003

Too often, web entrepreneurs today think of search as a one-way business, focusing solely on how to make money off of the search engines without understanding how search engines also need to make money in order to survive and thrive.

Search And Destroy
Time, Dec. 15, 2003,9171,1101031222-561499,00.html

Newsletter readers have already seen this type of story before, and you can expect more of them as major news weekly and other publications educate their respective readerships about the coming Google IPO and the competition the company faces in the form of Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon. There's a passing reference of Google claiming to now have 4 billion pages indexed. Perhaps this is the sum of the pages they claim to have indexed on the home page plus those in the supplemental index, a figure for which Google's never disclosed.

Internet start-up plans first local IPO in years
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter, Dec. 12, 2003

Marchex has filed to go public. Marchex? The company founded by former Go2Net/InfoSpace executives owns Enhance Interactive, the recently renamed ah-ha paid listings service. Enhance also provides paid inclusion listings to various InfoSpace web sites, such as Dogpile. Marchex also owns search engine marketing firm TrafficLeader, which resells paid inclusion and paid placement listings, as well as provides other services.

Google to Start Research and Development in India
Reuters, Dec. 11, 2003

Google plans to open its first non-US research center in Bangalore, India.

Can Google Grow Up?
Fortune, Dec. 8, 2003,15114,548765,00.html

A look inside Google, posing questions about whether the company will continue to succeed. Google is called arrogant, apparently by those who try to negotiate deals with it. Growth has left employees and partners confused about directions. Contract employees without stock options, making up 30 percent of Google workers the story says, have resentment against those who do. And who is in charge, the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or CEO Eric Schmidt?

Google better look out, the story warns, because Microsoft is going to "push" it off tens of millions of PCs. Keep in mind that Google is not preinstalled on the vast majority of PCs out there, so this isn't a new threat. And if Microsoft does manage to find a way to prevent users from actively seeking out Google, as they do now, then Yahoo faces the same challenge.

As for Yahoo, it already competes head-to-head with Google and has done so since it bought Inktomi last year. The partnership with Google was effectively over then, but most likely for contractual reasons, Yahoo has continued to park the $235 million investment it made in Inktomi on the sidelines while it continues to use Google. When Yahoo finally shifts fully to Inktomi, it won't be a surprise or shock to Google.

As for what happens if a "good enough" search engine is in the hands of a Google rival -- Yahoo and MSN have already have "good enough" search engines. Google's survived that just fine, so far.

None of this is to downplay the fact that Google has challenges ahead, including much stronger and dedicated competition that it ever has had before. However, some perspective on that competition is also important to keep in mind. This is a weak time for Google? Yahoo's still trying to absorb Overture, which itself just absorbed two other companies -- and Inktomi continues to linger. As for MSN, it's still hiring for the "army of brainiacs" the article says it already has for web search. Google's competition is going to be tough, no doubt. But right now, that competition faces disarray of its own.

The article looks at how Schmidt focused Google on earning money, though AdWords actually predates him. Schmidt joined in early 2001. Google started running "text banners" at the end of 1999, then opened its self-serve AdWords program in late 2000 -- not February 2002, as the story says. Instead, that date is when AdWords opened a new CPC-based product that ran alongside the preexisting CPM-based AdWords. Today, CPM has been entirely replaced by CPC -- and the shift is likely what made even more money flow in.

The article has some good figures on number of employees and revenues, though public sources for the revenue figures aren't cited. Google itself has never released these. It also covers concern that AOL is said to have about Google's growth.

Finally, this story leads off recounting how I shot softball questions past Sergey Brin earlier this year at the San Jose Search Engine Strategies conference. I did not ask, "How did Google become such an icon?," as the story says -- but the fault here is mine, given that our own SearchDay coverage of the interview suggests this. What I actually asked was, "Did you envision that kind of success," describing the growth Google's seen since it has grown in 1998. That's something entirely different.

Other questions included, "How will an IPO change Google?," "How do you respond to critics you say you are too powerful?," "Will you ever do paid inclusion?" and "Where do you go next to improve relevancy as link analysis begins to look less and less useful?" Those aren't exact quotes, but they capture the fact that it wasn't all softball questions, at least to me. But Fortune writer Fred Vogelstein tells me he really mean this to capture that the spirit of the interview was friendly and casual, rather than aggressive. That's absolutely true.

Sex sites fire up Internet search engines' profit
New York Times, Dec. 3, 2003

Brief look at how search engines make money by carrying porn listings.

These Sites Are a Shopper's Dream
BusinessWeek, Nov. 25, 2003

You can tell that the holiday shopping season is approaching because of all the stories about shopping search engines that are beginning to appear. This one looks at shopping search engines from a business perspective, in terms of how much they earn.

Pre-IPO Google Dossier: An Experiment in Opinion Mining
K-Praxis, Nov. 17, 2003

A wide-ranging look at various opinions that have been expressed about Google. Unfortunately, while sources are noted generally at the beginning, some individual statements are not attributed. In some cases, this would have been helpful for those wanting to do follow-up research.

The Gold In Google's IPO Goes To...
BusinessWeek, Nov. 17, 2003

Sure, Google will make a lot of money when it goes public. But how much will those with big stakes in the company make. This article provides a look at what slice of Google various people own. The founders each are said to have at least 15 percent each. That means they could be looking at being worth up to $3 billion a piece. The companies that backed Google with early investment money might see a 20,000 percent return. Competitor Yahoo has a small stake in Google -- but small is relative. That stake could be worth up to $300 million, more than what Yahoo's expected to make in profit this year.

Gates: No Talk To Buy Google
USA Today, Nov. 17, 2003

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says his company has never talked with Google about buying that company.

Growth in Google's revenue engine seen slowing
Reuters, Nov. 16, 2003

Last year, there was lots of speculation on how much money Google earns. Now the focus has shifted to how revenue growth may slow. All of this despite the fact that the company has never published any revenue figures at all. Despite the headline, this is really about the fact that the paid listings market is likely to slow in terms of growth. I have no doubt it will, but no one can say how much. The introduction of new products, the almost certain rise in cost-per-click, the expansion of paid listing distribution -- all are factors that may keep growth strong.

Keyword Search Emerges As Dominant Online Ad Format
MediaDailyNews, Nov. 12, 2003

I remember not that long ago when online advertising spend reports would come out, I'd ask those issuing them what portion was related to search engine marketing. The silence, as they say, was deafening. It wasn't that spend didn't happen. Instead, it was that no one bothered to count.

Want to revisit those bad old days of search being ignored? Then re-read my article from August 2001, Search Engine Marketing Finally Getting Respect.

The good news is, they're counting now. The just released IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report found that "keyword search," which apparently means spending on paid placement and probably paid inclusion listings, made up 31 percent of all internet advertising spending in the second quarter of this year, up from 9 percent for the same period last year. It's not clear if money spent to gain organic or "free" search engine listings is counted in this. I suspect not -- and arguably, that type of spend might be counted as a PR effort.

Not only the search spend a record, but it also positions search engine marketing as the dominant online advertising format. Banners, the second most popular form, made up 22 percent of spending. Rich media, which were once seen as the hot future for online ads, came in many positions later at 6 percent. You can read the report yourself here.

Microsoft's Internet Search Push Worries Google, Yahoo
Dow Jones, Nov. 10. 2003

Some nice color here of Microsoft making the decision to get serious about search back in February, with the sign-off going up to Bill Gates.

Ask Jeeves chief says new exec team ready for future
Contra Costa Times, Nov. 9, 2003

Q&A with Ask Jeeves president and future CEO Steve Berkowitz, covering staying profitable, growing the company, trying to gain market share from the big four: Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN, examining search behavior to provide better search results and other topics.

eBay's Whitman: Google Is Not a Threat
Reuters, Nov. 3, 2003

eBay's CEO Meg Whitman dismisses that Google is a threat to eBay. Nor would I see Google's Froogle shopping search engine as a threat to eBay, since Froogle provides no functionality for merchants that lack online stores. That's eBay's strength. However, her faith that Google's focus on "search" means it wouldn't get into online auctions may be misguided. Google got into blogging earlier this year, and that has nothing to do with search. Google might easily unveil a system to let companies list products for sale, perhaps through a Google version of Yahoo Merchant Solutions. That might very well be a threat to eBay.

Amazon: Sales up from book search, Oct. 30, 2003

Amazon says its new "Search Inside The Book" feature has boosted sales.

In What's Google Really Worth
BusinessWeek, Oct. 30, 2003

Alex Salkever deconstructs the notion that Google might be worth up to $25 billion. Coming up with that figure by using eBay and Yahoo are benchmarks is probably misguided, given that those companies have business models so much different than that of Google, he says. In contrast, looking at pre-Yahoo-owned Overture is much more instructive. Doing so, as well as a look at enterprise search company Verity, puts Google's potential valuation much lower.

LookSmart: Determinedly Second-Tier, Exploring Options, Oct. 29, 2003

LookSmart is still pondering the best way forward in the wake of news that its distribution with MSN will end this January.

Ask Jeeves scraps it out with search engine giants
Red Herring, Oct. 29, 2003

Ask Jeeves is the minnow swimming among the big fish of Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. But the company's thinks it can thrive and survive, despite being dependent on Google's ads.

Analyzing Search Engines as Investments
SearchDay, Oct. 29, 2003

Search has become increasingly popular, but do the common stocks of search engines make a good investment? High-tech investment analysts share a glimpse of the techniques they see to value publicly traded search firms, and which companies appear to be succeeding.

AOL's Happy Secret
New York Times, Oct. 28, 2003

Google's apparently making oodles of cash for AOL, but the company is also reorganizing its own in-house advertising efforts.

The State of the Search Engine Industry
SearchDay, Oct. 22, 2003

Noted search engine experts and analysts explored the major themes and trends driving the current and future state of the industry in a lively, wide-ranging forum at the Search Engine Strategies conference.

FindWhat Surges After Third-Quarter Beat, Oct. 21, 2003

FindWhat reports $2.8 in net income last quarter. The company said it will no longer report some stats such as revenue per click. It said that the merger with Espotting is still being worked out but could still fail to happen. FindWhat also disclosed that two unnamed distribution partners each accounted for more than 10 percent of FindWhat's income. You can bet one of those is probably InfoSpace, which operates several popular meta search sites that carry FindWhat results, including Dogpile.

Internet Search Engine Advertising Shows Major Gains
AdAge, Oct. 13, 2003

Readers of this newsletter know the power of search engine marketing, so there's not a lot new in this article written for the more traditional media buyers who read AdAge. But do check out some of the stats, which are good. Ford's online arm is spending 25 percent of its budget on search engine marketing. Edmunds reports a 30 to 40 percent return on its buys. United Airlines wants search to make up 25 to 50 percent of its online marketing budget. And the costs of buying are going up.

Waiting For the Big One: Why a Google IPO appears likely by April, at the latest
Barron's Online, Oct. 13, 2003,,SB106583046445910900,00.html

Google may have to go public simply because it has too many employees. If I recall correctly, this is one of the main reasons that Microsoft was eventually forced to go public. Latest rumors are that Google makes more than $100 million in profit off up to $1 billion in revenue.

Battered LookSmart says it can look smarter
TheAge, Oct. 11, 2003

LookSmart founder Evan Thornley says LookSmart will announce its plans to survive the loss of MSN in a few weeks.

Yahoo keeps up profit streak, Oct. 8, 2003

Yahoo has its sixth consecutive profi

SimilarWeb Search and traffic sourcing are both crucial to luring shoppers to your website. In this article, "2 Successful Holiday Strategies for Online Retail", you'll learn how to use a two-pronged approach for your holiday search campaigns that combine top keywords with the best referral sites. Data in this article comes from SimilarWeb.

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