The Next Portal Wars?

from the competing-with-the-channel dept

It seems that, these days, everyone wants a piece of the “paid search” market. It’s the big thing, after all. Still, as I read about how Telstra, down in Australia, is getting ready to “enter the market” by spending millions of dollars advertising their new “search and directory” service, it raises a lot more questions than it answers. First off, the article talks a lot about the paid search market, and how it’s growing at phenomenal rates. It also talks about how Telstra is trying to take on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in order to protect their current directory and classified advertising business. However, it takes a very long time before you get to what they actually mean by “getting into the search market.” They’re just building yet another portal, using Yahoo’s Inktomi technology and LookSmart for search ads. Note that they’re not doing anything to make “search” better. Really, all this turns out to be is a marketing play of the old school portal variety. They want to build a portal, hype the hell out of it, and then sell search-based ads on it – using the technology of others. There’s no technology advantage. In fact, the technology they’re using is actually the technology of one of their so-called “competitors,” Yahoo. This has been raised before, but as the paid search battles continue there’s an obvious channel conflict question that’s going to be raised. How comfortable will these new portals (just trying to cash in with the marketing dollars) be with the fact that they’re competing with the companies that are providing them their technology. Now, in some cases, they may try to build a better interface and a better user experience – which could attract some users. But simply surrounding the same old search engine with lots of ads and some portal type content doesn’t seem to offer much of an advantage. If you read the article above, you’ll notice that almost all of the “advantages” they discuss are for advertisers – not users. The advantages to your advertisers are useless if there’s no advantage to your users, because you won’t have any.

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