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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing GoTo to Overture to YSM – Timeline

GoTo to Overture to YSM – Timeline

YSM was the first company to take full advantage of the pay per click advertising model with large syndication deals to third party search engines. The distribution network they started several years ago has never slowed down, and YSM continues to look for new and interesting ways to introduce their model in not only search engines, but in other forms of media as well. They’ve had quite an interesting history as they went from a small startup company to one of the largest search marketing reaches. Here’s a brief history of a small company known as

1997: launches. was founded by ideaslabs. It did not yet have a public offering.

February 21, 1998 presents a proof of concept testing at TED8.

With little fanfare, the new paid search engine launched. For the first year of’s existence, most advertisers received little traffic, and the engine seemed to brand itself as more of a search engine than an advertising platform.

June 15, 1998: announces backfill deal with Inktomi.

This was a big breakthrough for It began to backfill its paid listings with search results from Inktomi. This allowed the search engine to further brand itself as a search engine because it could now show results for any search query through Inktomi’s technology.

The first major milestone for on the advertiser front. Passing 1000 paid advertisers was a big deal, but the search engine was still unfriendly to many of those advertisers as there wasn’t a self serve platform.

June 1 1999: launches toolset to let advertisers take control.

The largest change from a rep based system to a self serve system. launched a toolset to allow advertisers access to keywords and real time bidding. Today, this toolset is known as the DTC or direct traffic center.

June 1999: goes public.

In a short two years, the company went form being launched to going public. This shows the vision and foresight of many of its founding members.

Oct.8, 2001: changes its name to Overture Services.

The first of two re-brandings for the paid listing search engine. It changed its name to Overture Services.

November 20, 2001: Overture teams up with

The first major destination deal for Overture occurred when Yahoo began to feature the paid Overture listings on Yahoo search results. This quickly became the mantra for Overture. As it realized it wouldn’t compete with other portals as a destination zone, it began to partner with these portals to give its ads visibility and for the search engines to further monetize search results.

March 2003: Overture buys AllTheWeb.

Overture’s first move towards owning it’s own search technology was acquiring Alltheweb.

April 28, 2003: Overture completes purchase of Alta Vista for $106 million in stock and cash.

Alta Vista was once one of the major search engines with its own user base and technology. Overture acquired them and began to implement some of its search technology into their result sets.

Oct. 7, 2003: Yahoo completes purchase of Overture for $2.2 billion in stock and cash

Yahoo acquires Overture. Overture had become a major income stream for Yahoo, and was very dependent on them for search based revenue. The purchase of Overture gave Yahoo control not only over Alta Vista, and Overture. But soon became the first portal to own 4 engines as Yahoo now owns Inktomi, FAST, AllTheWeb, and Overture.

April 18, 2005: Overture Services changes name to Yahoo Search Marketing.

The second major re-branding effort for the paid listings provider. In an effort to brand Overture as an integral part of Yahoo, the thinkers at Yahoo changed the name in order to show the synonomity of these two systems and further attract advertisers with a self serve Yahoo branded model. At this time, Yahoo Local was also bundled under YSM control, although the local advertising remained unsupported by YSM staff and is still quite early in its development and monetization stages.

From small roots with an idea, went from a small company to becoming an integral part of one of the top internet platforms known as Yahoo.

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