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Is a big part of search's future based on content partnerships?
When Google announced that it was acquiring Zagat, it looked problematic. After all, Zagat was a publisher struggling to stay relevant in the digital age and Google was the world's biggest search engine. The potential conflicts the deal could create were huge.
One of the companies likely to have been most concerned with the acquisition was Yelp. Along with other popular user-generated reviews sites, it has arguably played a key role in Zagat's woes. With Google behind it, would the Mountain View-based company push Zagat content at the expense of a company like Yelp, which it once reportedly looked to buy?
Earlier this year, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that it would discontinue producing its annual 32-volume printed edition.
"By concentrating our efforts on our digital properties, we can continuously update our content and further expand the number of topics and the depth with which they are treated without the space constraints of the print set," Encyclopaedia Britannica's president, Jorge Cauz, explained.
There are seemingly countless ways that social data could be applied to search, and there has been significant discussion around how major search engines will integrate social into their algorithms and user experiences.
Already, Google and Bing have experimented with social features, and today, the latter announced even more social integration.
Some advertisers may be questioning their investments in paid Facebook ads, but even the brands most unhappy with Facebook's paid advertising offerings are, by and large, continuing to spend big bucks on their Facebook Pages.
Those Facebook Pages may not technically be owned media, but Facebook Pages are free, and brands have more control over them than anything else on Facebook, so they're often treated like owned media.
When it comes to large tech companies and how they've fared with social networking, one could argue that Microsoft is the most successful.
Google has struggled to build viable homegrown social networks, Yahoo has largely done little of note, AOL purchased Bebo for $850m only to drive it into the ground, etc.
Microsoft's claim to success in the social space? A $240m investment in Facebook in 2007 which valued the social network at $15bn.
With the adoption of new ad formats and further penetration of tablets, the growth of paid search is on the up. According to IgnitionOne's new online report on Global Online Advertising, the first quarter of 2012 showed a 30.3% year on year growth in search advertising.
The comprehensive report outlines some of the biggest areas of growth in this area including targeted paid search spend, Yahoo/ Bing market share and an increase of mobile search activity, especially from tablets.
UK internet users made 2.2bn visits to search engines in February 2012, an increase of 174m visits year-on-year.
The data, compiled by Experian Hitwise, also shows that Google’s dominance has slightly increased - while Microsoft and Yahoo saw both monthly and year-on-year declines in traffic.
Google accounted for a massive 91.57% of search traffic in February, up 0.93% from January 2012 and an increase of 0.89% year-on-year.
Yahoo has started the process of merging its UK search marketing accounts and search traffic into Microsoft's adCenter, so all search results and ads will now be delivered by Bing.
The migration, which is due for completion at the end of April, means the ad platform will now account for around 6% of UK search traffic.
As the countdown to 2012 speeds up, it's time for some predictions.
Here are five things brands will be devoting their time and budget to next year, including driving cross channel sales, multichannel attribution, and mobile marketing.
For companies hit by Google's Panda updates, the search giant's approach to cleaning up its index may seem quite unfair.
But if Google has been aggressive with Panda, its efforts appear to be no match when compared to Microsoft's efforts to increase index quality on Bing. Need proof? Just ask CyberMonday.com, which is run by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Microsoft. The economy, along with the stock market, tanked later in the year, saving Microsoft from what could have gone down as one of the worst timed deals in M&A history.
And despite the stock market's rebound over the past several years, Yahoo is still valued at well under half of what Microsoft was willing to pay in 2008.