Commentary

ANA Tries To Scuttle Yahoogle Search Deal

The big-brand marketers at the Association of National Advertisers are urging the Department of Justice to scrap Yahoo's search deal with Google.

In a statement outlining its objection to the deal, the ANA complains that a Yahoo-Google combination will give one company control over 90% of the paid search marketplace.

But that figure is misleading because the deal only covers a small fraction of Yahoo's search inventory. While it's possible that Google and Yahoo will want to merge their paid search operations entirely, that's not the scenario currently under review.

The ANA says it's concerned that a Google-Yahoo search deal could result in higher prices for pay-per-click search ads. But Google largely operates on an auction system, which means that marketers themselves set ad prices. While Google has minimum bids in some categories, there's no indication that it intends to raise those rates.

Still, even if the prices of search ads rises, the overall cost to marketers won't necessarily rise. If marketers get higher conversion rates with Google powering the search ads, it makes sense that marketers would be willing to pay more for each individual click.

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At the same time, it's easy to understand why there's a concern that Google is growing too powerful. At 10 years old, Google has morphed into far more than just a search engine. Between YouTube, Gmail and, now, the Chrome browser -- not to mention its blogging service, photo program, online maps, and other features -- Google reaches nearly all Web users, even those who don't regularly use search engines.

There are also real questions about whether Google is amassing too much information about Web users, which potentially compromises people's privacy.

But the deal between Google and Yahoo still should be evaluated on its own terms. And Google's growing power and influence online doesn't necessarily mean that this particular deal will hurt search marketers.

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