Hey, Google Bulls, Did You See What Happened To Ask.com? (GOOG)


Barry Diller’s Ask.com and IAC’s other online properties just demonstrated just how recession-proof online advertising is: Online ad revenue dropped 19% year over year, and search click prices dropped 8%-12%. The outlook, meanwhile, is worse.

Google obviously posted much better results in Q4, and we don’t mean to insult the search giant by comparing it with Ask. But the companies are in the same business, and it’s hard to see how Google will meet, much less exceed, the 17% 2009-2010 revenue growth estimate that Wall Street is looking for (17%!).

Prepare for more Google estimate cuts.  And, meanwhile, don’t even think about what is happening to display-ad spending.  If this continues, we may have to revise our estimate that display spending will drop 20% this year.

Mark Mahaney on IAC:

Key Negatives Included:

1) CPCs [click prices] were flat in Q4 and are down 8-12% Y/Y in Q1:09 YTD;

2) Media & Advertising revenue declined 19% Y/Y (first time ever revenue declined) due to macro & structural issues at Ask and weak Display ad market;

3) Weak Media & Advertising outlook, with revenues expected to decline in the mid-20% range with little/or no OIBA profits;

4) Risky change in search strategy to verticalization; 

5) No immediate plans for share buybacks.