The battle de search – is never ending, and while Yahoo! and Google have been slugging it out publicly for ages, MSN has always been in the shadows – until recently with the launch of their own search technology.
Without the database size of the others, lower search usage patterns and less extensive search coverage, MSN has been happy to play second fiddle to the big guys – well maybe not happy, by resigned to that role involuntarily.
Then along came AOL. Well it’s been here for what seems like an eternity, with the largest base of American’s connected through its ISP services, plus an extensive international following. It’s on the market, and the competition is fierce. So what value does AOL bring to a search engine?
Well AOL has its own search engine within its network, which is currently based on the Google database. Bring with it the longest held captive audience of any brand on the internet – including the likes of Yahoo!, Google, EBay, and MSN, and you have some ‘net real estate every man and his dog would like to own.
To give you an indication – it ranked as the 5th most popular brand online based on recent Nielsen/Netrating figures for August (Yahoo! ranked first) – but AOL visitors spend an amazing six and a half hours on the AOL network, on average.
Rumours have it that MSN is the lead bidder, exceeding both Google & Yahoo! at this stage. This potential MSN/AOL partnership makes things very interesting. Firstly, AOL will probably change its database to MSN, which will cause a significant drop in Google’s search coverage and dramatically improve MSN’s reach. Add to that the extensiveness of the AOL network and its power to maintain the attention of its audience for long periods, and suddenly the power of MSN search advertising becomes so much stronger…stay tuned to see who wins the auction.