Lobbyists Renew Google-Yahoo Search Opposition

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-09 Print this article Print

Despite no news on the pact that would pair Google's paid search terms with Yahoo's search engine, rural and minority groups continue to beat the drum for the notion that any such deal would be anticompetitive.

LISTA (Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association), the ACGA (American Corn Growers Association) and other leading agricultural groups claimed that the proposed partnership between Google and Yahoo, which is hardly certain at this point, could create a monopoly in the search advertising market.

The only timely reason I can see for the complaints, which civil groups raised a month ago in May, is that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at a luncheon for the Economic Club in Washington earlier today. When in Rome, as they say.

LISTA said it wants to know how Google will ensure that it does not abuse the near 90 percent share of the search market it will have with Yahoo and whether or not "Hispanic-owned small businesses that rely on Internet search for a competitive equalizer" will be given the shaft by Google-Yahoo in favor of results from bigger businesses.

This is not a new complaint, but does anyone really think these small businesses are getting priority placement on Yahoo, too? No, something smells here and I think it's Microsoft FUD.

LISTA also mentioned the recent privacy policy hullabaloo but what that has to do with Google and Yahoo is anyone's guess. 

ACGA makes similar complaints, albeit on behalf of farmers everywhere in the country. The ACGA asked asked the U.S. House and Senate judiciary committees to hold prompt hearings about the case.

"Search applications have become an important resource for the agricultural community -- cattlemen are now buying and selling calves on frontierstockyards.com, seed customers are finding suppliers through search ads displayed on AgriSeek.com, and family farmers are connecting with customers via localharvest.org," the ACGA stated today, June 9.

The group goes on to complain that a Google-Yahoo arrangement will lead to discrimination against small and midsize businesses in rural communities in favor of "larger, more moneyed firms, driving up online advertising prices for everything from feedstock to equipment and shutting out hundreds of small businesses who need an open platform on which to market their products."

Like the LISTA letter, this argument rings hollow. Do they mean to say that farmers are using Yahoo to sell products and not Google? That a Google-Yahoo alliance will somehow magically swing some balance against their favor?

No, this is silly. Someone is pinching these people to complain or has filled them with FUD like it's manure for the crops. 

That said, these complaints may well fall flat for other reasons. Google and Yahoo tested an outsourcing deal two months ago and we have yet to see either hide or hair of such a solution. Moreover, according to a civil complaint, it doesn't seem as though Yang ever wanted to do a deal.

With an Icahn-spurred proxy fight looming, I'd wager that such a deal is the last thing in Yahoo's mind as it seeks to retain its management team to make a comeback. What do you think?

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