Marketwatch on the ‘bubble’ in search stocks such as Overture and Ask Jeeves (registration is required after the story is 24 hours old). In addition to the reasons specified in the article why these stocks are perhaps over-priced, there is another one: legal uncertainty. If keyword sales helps a company sell binoculars more efficently to people searching for finches, than that’s fanstastic. What’s unsettled at this time is the legal status of Search Company selling [Trademark of A] as a keyword to A’s competitor. The lower court decision in Playboy v. Excite is, imho, a badly reasoned case that should not predict how the 9th Circuit (and other circuits) will rule. I have not seen figures indicating what percentage of targeted advertising sales come from keywords consisting of trademarks (some companies, such as Google, impose terms and conditions which would appear to help it lower its exposure to litigation arising from a third-party protest).
Furthermore, the FTC has already shown that it is paying its attention to the manner in which search engines display paid-for search results in comparison to non-paid-for results. This suggests that not everyone is taking heed. Stock-buyers beware.
Depicted above: a product from the company that appears to have purchased ‘bubble’ as a keyword from Google. This product is known as ‘economy bubble.’