Search Marketer: Yahoo Taking Share From Google (GOOG, YHOO)

Yahoo’s last-ditch effort to hold off Microsoft (MSFT) comes down to this: Stall, hope they’ll have a monster Q1, and the market will suddenly see the company’s value again.

Slim chance, but here’s at least one data point to fuel Jerry Yang’s hopes: Yahoo’s (YHOO) share of search marketing dollars took a big jump in Q1, according to Roger Barnette, president of search marketing firm SearchIgnite. Among SearchIgnite’s clients, mostly major brand advertisers, Yahoo’s share of search advertising grew to 23% during the first quarter, up from 19.4% in Q4, according to preliminary data. SearchIgnite will have full results next week.

Barnette said most of Yahoo’s came at the expense of Google (GOOG), which represented less than 70% of search spending for the first time since the beginning of 2007. “We really haven’t seen a jump like that,” Barnette said on a call with analysts today. “They started making gains in Q3 and Q4 and have continued to capitalise.”

Barnette attributed Yahoo’s gains to advertisers becoming more comfortable with its search ad platform Panama starting in the second half of 2007.

Yahoo’s gains came as overall search marketing started to slow during the quarter. The quarter started strong with 48% y/y growth in January, but growth started to slow to 33% in February and to 19% in March. All comparisons are on a same-clients basis. WIll Margiloff, CEO of SearchIngite parent Innovation Interactive, said he believes marketers are reassessing their ad mix, given general weakness in the economy.

SearchIgnite buys $200 million in search advertising annually.

Earlier: Ad Buyer: No Slowdown In Search Or Google

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