Yahoo! turns 10, absorbs Overture

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Yahoo! consolidated its advertising, search and directory products under one brand two weeks ago, renaming Overture Services, its wholly owned search engine subsidiary, Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions.

In addition to the new brand, Yahoo! said it will launch an advertising solutions center to help businesses plan and buy search marketing and brand advertising online. It also formally announced the launch of the Yahoo! Search Developer Network, which will give developers access to Web service application program interfaces (APIs) for Yahoo! Search products.

The announcements were made at Jupitermedia's Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York, on the eve of Yahoo!'s 10th anniversary.

"This unifies the way to think about Yahoo! Search, and it's not just a rebranding," said Jerry Yang, co-founder and director of Yahoo!, in a keynote Q&A at the Jupiter show. "It's also a long-term solution to unifying the brand." Yahoo! completed its acquisition of Overture in 2003 for $1.8 billion.

During the talk, Yang hinted at more developments in 2005 that will continue to extend the Yahoo! brand. Yahoo! is exploring opportunities in behavior-based search and personalized content, as well as search beyond the desktop, Yang said. "Integration around devices is where a lot of the growth will be," he said. "We're blending services in a way that we hope will be seamless for the user."

Yang said jettisoning the Overture name was natural, given the growth of the search business. "Search is not just an activity or a destination," he said. "It's becoming more integrated and more of a platform."

"We think this is good for marketers in three ways," said Ted Meisel, president of Overture Services and senior VP of Yahoo! "It builds awareness. It makes our products more accessible to them by making them easier to find, [and] it underscores Yahoo!'s commitment to take a whole set of search products and over time integrate them into one easy-to-use interface."

Integration makes sense

Overture has operated quite distinctly from Yahoo!, but it makes sense to integrate Overture with Yahoo! and use Yahoo!'s brand, said Jupiter Research analyst Niki Scevak. "Search is becoming a larger part of the marketing budget," he said. "Dealing with two different brand names didn't make sense."

The Web service APIs for Yahoo! Search products mean developers of software applications will be able to develop products consistent with the Yahoo! Search platform. Yang said Yahoo! will benefit by extending its reach as search becomes more distributed and decentralized.

Terry Semel, Yahoo!'s chairman-CEO, who spoke at the Bear Stearns 18th Annual Media Conference the day after the Jupiter show, echoed some of Yang's comments. He said the hope is to combine mail, instant messaging and search on a global basis. "Look to us this year to have total compatibility," Semel said. "Yahoo! has a deal with every wireless company in the U.S. Our overall strategy for it is to totally integrate."

Yahoo! will also focus on vertical search, a growing area in the search industry, and blogging. M

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