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Yahoo turns to radio ads to lure Google Web searchers

The Internet giant is running radio ads to remind people that there is an alternative to Google.

Updated 10 a.m. PDT with quotes from radio ad.

Yahoo is running radio ads in the San Francisco Bay Area and several other markets in an effort to get more people to use its search engine instead of Google's.


"Search engines like Google get you lost in all the links, but not Yahoo search," one of the ads says before noting that Yahoo offers drop-down menus with related suggestions as the searcher types.

"You won't find that on your Google page!" it says, before ending with the trademark Yahoo yodel.

The radio spots started running in the Bay Area a week ago, said Raj Gossain, vice president of marketing for the Yahoo Search team. He wouldn't say what other markets are involved or how much the company is spending on the spots. Ads are running online, too.

Apparently, the ads are not a response to the unsolicited Microsoft bid for the company, as Gossain said Yahoo began planning the ad campaign in December. Microsoft went public with its offer on February 1. The companies are talking, but Yahoo is holding out for more money.

Yahoo not only wants to show off new features added to its search engine in October, like search assist, short cuts, and multimedia results, but also to remind people that there is an alternative to Google.

"The rationale is we feel like we've built a better mouse trap and, quite frankly, we wanted to remind users that there really is a choice in search engines," Gossain said. "We've got a better, simpler, easier-to-use mouse trap."

Gossain acknowledged that it is hard to get people to change their habits, especially for something like Web search where people seem to go on auto-pilot.

The radio ads will "introduce Yahoo search to folks who perhaps haven't tried us in awhile," he said. "We've got capabilities in our search experience that the competition doesn't have."

The Yahoo search ads seemed to have the desired effect on one blogger, Luca Filigheddu, who wrote: "I'll be honest, it works. If I hadn't listened to it today, (I) wouldn't ever (have) realized that Yahoo search had improved so much. Good."