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Yahoocrosoft, Microhoo & The Importance of You

Posted on 4.30.2008
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What was the first action you took after hearing that Microsoft made an unsolicited bid for Yahoo? If you’re a Web analyst, it was probably off to cavort with other analysts about how this would change “everything” for everyone. Or maybe you joined in on the seemingly never-ending and often innocuous stream of remarks in the blogosphere. It’s been dramatic (or melodramatic, depending on your perspective) to say the least, with every capable suitor being called out and called on to help fend off the takeover. Speculation is running rampant and every professional is offering up their opinion on what it means to the future of their industry.

Does it really matter?

It’s hard to deny that this is a big deal. In fact, just look at the numbers. comScore’s Top 50 Properties (which analyzes unique visitors from home, work and university locations) reveals that a combined Microsoft and Yahoo would garner enough unique visitors to make Google look like a Silicon Valley startup. The same holds true for a Yahoo and AOL merger. But don’t start digging a grave for Google just yet — a combined Microsoft/Yahoo would not even come close to matching Google’s impressive 60-plus percent search market share. But what does all this mean for Web professionals?

To those working day in and day out within the digital trenches of the Web creating content, building applications, leveraging relationships and utilizing their own
insights to move towards profitability, the proposed takeover elicits little more than a shrug. For Web professionals it’s not about where you obtain visitors (Yahoo, Google, MSN, Ask or even Sneaky Pete’s Discount Web Traffic Depot) or how (display advertising, email advertising, PPC advertising, affiliate programs) but what you do with visitors when they arrive.

In the end, the company which acquires or merges with Yahoo (if it happens at all) matters little in comparison to how Web professionals will leverage the opportunity in that new environment. As it has always been, it comes down to users and how to reach them. Yahoo and Microsoft have secured massive email databases, so display advertising might play a much larger part in our minds and budgets. And because of the huge amounts of data they have acquired from their users, behavioral marketing might become a much more valuable and realistic marketing opportunity.

We don’t regularly cover industry news or mergers and acquisitions in Website Magazine, which explains why, as regular visitors to our daily blog, you haven’t read much about the proposed buyout. The reason is simple — while it’s important where we invest our promotional dollars, it’s more important to learn how to gain traffic using SEO, email marketing campaigns, establishing a viable e-commerce presence, leveraging affiliate marketing, deploying the principles of exceptional website design, exploring the depths of analytics solutions and of course building, buying and learning to support the software that makes everything come together. Should a merger happen, you can bet the farm that these companies won’t throw away the billions they’ve invested in offerings that force users to rethink their business models. You are more important to them than you might think. In the end, users always pay the bills.

So while mergers and acquisitions are exciting and entertaining, until something actually happens and these companies (who are vital to the Web economy) announce a shake-up in their Web operations, Web professionals should stay the course. This means not shifting your pay-per-click advertising budgets, not abandoning engine-specific optimization, and not avoiding the social communities managed or supported by these organizations. In the end, what is important is your success; continue focusing on the proven tactics and techniques that have made companies successful since the inception of the commercial Web and you will secure your long-term success.

About the Author: Peter Prestipino is the Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine.

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