Would Advertisers Welcome AOL’s Move From Google to Microsoft?


Dow Jones’ Mark Boslet writes about the benefits to advertisers should AOL switch alliances from Google to MSN.

Microsoft is jousting with Google Inc. to win an advertising partnership with AOL that could reshape the online search advertising business. If Microsoft and AOL were to join forces, their reach among Internet users would surpass both Google’s and Yahoo Inc.’s.

Would an AOL/Microsoft deal be a good thing for advertisers? I think so…

An AOL deal would be a significant endorsement of Microsoft’s fledgling search engine and advertising efforts, says Andy Beal, chief executive of Fortune Interactive, a search marketing company.

“A good level of competition could come out of this and would be good for advertisers and agencies,” Beal said. “There is a need for another strong player to enter this market.”

So why are MSN and Google fighting for AOL’s hand in marriage?

One explanation for the willingness to purchase is what Marshall Simmonds, chief search strategist at the New York Times Co. (NYT), refers to as community. Traffic to a search site like Google’s is transient, he says. People come for the information they need and then leave.

But AOL has the news and entertainment content to keep visitors on the site, an obvious attraction to Google, Microsoft and to advertisers.

“That’s what I think is at the root of this,” says Simmonds, referring to Microsoft’s and Google’s interest in AOL. “They absolutely need community.”