Boo hoo for Yahoo!
Maybe Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is no longer the bellwether it used to be. When the company warned that it would miss its current-quarter targets due to weakness in the online advertising market, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) fell in sympathy.

Haven't investors been able to distinguish the two by now? Google has always outpaced Yahoo!'s growth. There have even been quarters in which Yahoo! struck out at the plate, only to find Google emerge from the on-deck circle to hit it out of the park.

This doesn't mean that Google will buck the trend. If Yahoo! is dealing with belt-tightening auto and financial-services sponsors, those companies probably aren't hitting up Google for that business, either. There are sectors out there in a lull -- that's the nature of the advertising market. However, I would wait for Google to speak up before I painted the online ad market with such broad strokes. Google is the tail that wags the dog.

On the other hand...
Though maybe that's why Yahoo! is also trying to make a play for Facebook. If the offer is in the rumored $1 billion ballpark, it would bring back memories of the similar sum Yahoo! spent for a cool 40% stake in China's B2B site.

Google hasn't gone for content-site buyouts. Instead, it has keyed in on smaller technology deals to make its searches more efficient or its portal features more attractive. Yahoo! has always been about the bigger, splashier kind of buys, like photo-sharing site Flickr or the hub of hiring activity.

With every passing deal that Yahoo! makes, and every passing quarter that finds Google smacking the heck out of profit targets, the two companies are looking less and less alike. Google is a pure play on paid search, while Yahoo! may start being mentioned in the same breath as other jacks-of-all-trades like IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) or CNET (NASDAQ:CNET). That's not a bad place to be, either, though perhaps it means that the wrong stocks that are falling in sympathy.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Yahoo! is a Stock Advisor selection. CNET is a Rule Breakers newsletter service pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield-wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.