How Marissa Mayer Wants Yahoo To Be Like AOL And Ask

Marissa Mayer and Tim Armstrong

During a conference call with analysts to discuss Yahoo’s third-quarter earnings yesterday, new-ish CEO Marissa Mayer said that recovering search market share is a “top priority” for the company.

She said “there is clear upside” in Yahoo’s search business.

She’s right. Search is a perfect Web business with exquisite margins.

And, while it’s true that no one has ever successfully turned around a declining Internet asset, two companies have proven that it is possible to restore search growth after losing it for several quarters: AOL and IAC, with Ask.com.

AOL Search Growth

And look at Ask:

Ask Search Growth

 Here is what Yahoo search growth looks like right now:

Yahoo Search Growth

It took AOL and Ask one quarter to stabilise search growth at a nadir and one more to start moving it in the right direction again.

One thing that make Mayer’s effort more challenging: both Ask and AOL outsource search technology to Google. Yahoo outsources tech to Microsoft, a partnership which Mayer re-affirmed yesterday.

On the other hand, Mayer said Yahoo would re-invest its own resources into search, leveraging some of her expertise from Google.

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