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Abstract

This case analyzes the complex interactions between firms in the interrelated areas of search engines and portals after the dot com crash of 2000. Overture, a 1998 start-up, had transformed the online advertising market through the innovation of paid search, in which advertisers bid for top position for search terms. These results were provided to the portals and appeared alongside organic search results when a search was done. But Overture became a victim of its own success as the portals used their audience control to gain a greater share of advertising revenues. Google entered the paid search market in 2002 which ultimately led to Overture losing its independence and becoming a Yahoo subsidiary in 2003. As Google grew rapidly and expanded into other markets Yahoo and MSN attempted without success to counteract its influence. By February 2008 Google had been the clear winner of this rivalry, with Yahoo severely weakened. This culminated in an attempted Microsoft takeover of Yahoo with the main aim of stopping Google, a development Google was determined to prevent. This led to Google cooperating with Yahoo on paid search and Microsoft subsequently withdrawing its bid in May 2008.

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