Fly like you mean it, Microsoft
Farecast.com, a website that helps potential airline passengers by predicting airfares on certain routes, is coming under Microsoft's wing in what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting as a $115 million acquisition.
It's not the first time that Mr. Softy has hit the tarmac. The company had a majority stake in Expedia
Farecast may be a fledgling site, but it's still a great catch for Microsoft. My biggest gripe with the Microhoo hubbub -- beyond the outlandish price -- is that it doesn't change the fact that Google
Microsoft and Yahoo! are traffic magnets, but usually to pages -- like free email and IM platforms -- that are historically tough to monetize. Google may serve up fewer pages than Yahoo!, but it delivers three times the revenue, because most of that traffic is coming to its search engine.
There is no easier layup in the online advertising industry than serving sponsored leads to folks ready to spend money. On that front, it's hard to beat seekers on a travel site looking to book a flight.
This doesn't mean that Microsoft-sold "Sponsored Links" that run throughout Farecast will be enough to make Microsoft a contender in the high-margin contextual marketing space, but I'm guessing that those ads will work better than their appearance on many of Microsoft's own sites or existing partners like Facebook.
Microsoft needs more deals like this one, especially if the Microhoo deal comes undone, and the software giant has the means to go shopping. I've suggested that Microsoft pursue potential buyout candidates like The Knot
You can't fight Google with vanilla pages with low-paying ads for ringtones and survey sites. And you certainly can't fight Google by trying to make that up in volume. Microsoft needs quality -- not quantity -- and it's why it would be better off buying nearly 400 Farecasts than a single Yahoo!.
More Foolishness is in the forecast:
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of Yahoo! and Microsoft but not of bad weddings. He does not own shares in any stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.