Search Biz: New York Privacy Law May Set National Precedent; AOL Worth Half Of Yahoo?, & Surprise, Google Still #1
A privacy law taking shape in the New York legislature will make it a crime for internet companies to use personal information about consumers for advertising without their consent. And because of the generally boundary-free nature of the internet, it would effectively set a national precedent for companies collecting data about internet use.
The New York Times says that if the law is passed, computer users could request that companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft, which routinely keep track of searches and surfing conducted on their own properties, not follow them around.
“A law like this essentially takes some of the gold away from marketers,” said Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s the right thing to do. Consumers have no idea how much information is being collected about them, and the advertising industry should have to deal with that.”
Rumors are swirling that AOL is for sale, potentially fetching $20-25 billion, says Steve Rosenbush in Inside The Deals: AOL May Be Worth More Than You Think at Paid Content. How times have changed in eight years, when AOL purchased Time Warner for $182 billion (that’s not a typo—although Time Warner is widely perceived as the parent company today, it was AOL’s takeover target in 2000).
This valuation is roughly half of what Microsoft has offered for Yahoo. Who are the likely buyers? Google, for one, which purchased 5% of AOL back in 2005 for $1 billion. Other potential acquirers include IAC (Ask.com’s parent) and Disney, according to Rosenbush. Google, perhaps, but IAC is embroiled in a vicious struggle for control with major shareholder Liberty Media, and it’s unlikely any deal could occur until the dust settles.
Shocked! Shocked! Google increased its U.S. search market share in February, according to comScore. Looking at traffic of core searches only, Google’s share was 59.2 percent, up from 58.5 percent the previous month. Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 21.6 percent, followed by Microsoft Sites (9.6 percent), AOL LLC (4.9 percent), and Ask Network (4.6 percent).
Venture capital for search is alive and well, as Retrevo Gets $8 Million Second Round For Electronics Product Search from Paid Content reports. Retrevo is a cool comparison shopping engine that uses proprietary metrics to “rate” electronic products, both algorithmically and based on community participation. It’s also a useful service if you’ve misplaced your owner’s manual for a product, offering PDF versions of thousands of manuals.