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Brand Consolidation Designed to Hone Competitive Edge

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NEW YORK ( In an effort to consolidate and strengthen its brand image against arch-rival Google, Yahoo today said it is changing the name of its Overture unit to Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions.
Overture is changing its name to Yahoo Search.

The move was announced by Yahoo founder Jerry Yang at today's Jupiter Research Search Engine Strategies conference at the New York Hilton.

Search ad pioneer
Overture, which began its business life as, pioneered the concept of search-engine advertising, a segment that has now evolved into the Internet's largest money maker. In 2003, the company acquired search engines Alta Vista and Later that year, Overture itself was acquired by Yahoo for $1.7 billion. But after the sale it maintained its own brand identity, which it promoted with aggressive marketing campaigns.

"Overture is a well-known brand name and I think our partners are aware of that [but] Yahoo has been one of the strongest well-known brands worldwide," Overture's spokeswoman Gaude Paez said.

As part of the strategy change, Yahoo is also placing all of its paid search services under one umbrella. These include sponsored search listings, contextual ad listings, the local search and the URL submission services. An advertising center, from which these services can be accessed, will be accessible from the Yahoo home page. The changes are planned during the next quarter.

Search services for mobile devices
Mr. Yang suggested that upcoming innovations call for extending search and Yahoo content to mobile devices, and investing more in the personalization of content and search.

Search marketing, originally the purview of cool, but geeky IT guys, has come into its own as spending on search now accounts for more than one-third of all online advertising spending. The first Jupitermedia conference in 1999 had 350 attendees, said search guru Danny Sullivan, whose "Search Engine Watch" e-newsletter is considered an industry bible and who moderates the conference. This year's show boasted more than 1,500 attendees, he said.

"It's not a bubble," he said, explaining his feelings looking out at the crowded auditorium. "These people are here because search is a very powerful form of marketing."

Bickering analysts
However, analysts are bickering over whether the swift-growing search market is about to slow down. Last week, analyst Jordan Rohan from RBC Capital Markets downgraded his ratings on Google and Yahoo because he expected a leveling off of the market. But this week, a Piper Jaffray analyst said predictions about a slowdown were overblown.

Search advertising represented about 40% of the $2.6 billion online market in 2004. Search is expected to grow 19% in 2005, according to the most recent predictions from online marketing research firm eMarketer.

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