Whether Yahoo! stayed independent or aligned with Microsoft didn't matter to many search engine marketers -- they just wish there were a viable rival to counter Google's dominance of the segment, according to panelists at an industry confab. "In the last 10 years, I've seen a dramatic decrease of competition between Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, and that's increased the importance of success on Google," said one online marketer. "When our clients come to us to talk about search, what they really mean is, 'Let's talk about Google.'"

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