Beyond showing its dominance in the search category, Google's strong fourth-quarter figures also show the company is well on its way to transforming search from a direct-response segment to a branding vehicle, according to Robert Hof, BusinessWeek's Silicon Valley bureau chief. Google is pitching a "complete sales and marketing platform for all advertisers," Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president of technology, told analysts during a conference call.

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