This week, the online marketing community was buzzing about new search engine developments and studies reporting the marketing power of various platforms. Here's Brafton's take on the top internet marketing...  <a class="excerpt-read-more" href="" title="Read Internet marketing news roundup, December 17">Read more »</a>

This week, the online marketing community was buzzing about new search engine developments and studies reporting the marketing power of various platforms. Here's Brafton's take on the top internet marketing news for the week ending December 17.

Early in the week, marketers couldn't get enough of headlines revolving around rumors of a Microsoft/Twitter alliance. The rumors spread after executives for the two companies were seen brunching together at the end of last week. If this alliance comes into being, it could give Microsoft a huge competitive edge in the social search market, as it will build on Bing's Facebook alliance, offering Like-data in search results.

Facebook was also in the news this week when Mark Zuckerberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year. At press time, Google Realtime results for "Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year" demonstrate that the online chatter surrounding Facebook's CEO continues to dominate social forums.

Not to be outdone by Facebook, Twitter also made some big announcements this week. The company revealed that it had earned $200 million in funding, and it also launched a revamped business site to encourage and support marketing on the microblogging site. Additionally, the company announced its top Tweets for 2010, which likely offer insight for social and content marketers on search engine optimization (and social search optimization) strategies that could catch clicks from social users.

YouTube also released insight on its top searched phrases for 2010. Internet marketers might want to make note of these trends and optimize video content accordingly; comScore released data this week indicating Google sites (driven by YouTube) are the top video platforms, attracting the highest number of unique viewers and holding their interest for the longest periods of time.

Some less flattering news for Google revolved around an engineer for the company's buzz-generating report that Google Instant doesn't play favorites when it comes to brands. The company had to defend its results after brands cried foul over Google-generated content's high rankings.

But, there was good news for Google on the mobile front. The company generated ample online buzz this week about its reported 130 percent year-over-year growth in mobile searches. Google also announced personalized speech recognition to cater to its mobile audience. To facilitate more mobile searches (and local on-the-go purchases), the company is offering a Sellers Ratings extension to mobile audiences and launching a Latitude app for the iPhone.

It also seems that Google is looking to build on its social search offerings. Google and Myspace announced yesterday they have renewed and expanded their search and advertising agreements. 

Bing also enhanced its social and search offerings this week. The company announced on Wednesday that it would be offering new image searches and more mobile options. Though there was no mention of new Twitter data, Bing confirmed that it would be expanding its Facebook data within search results.

More Facebook data within results might be a competitive necessity for Bing in light of the buzz surrounding Blekko's new Facebook slashtag. Many wonder if Like-exclusive search results will help leverage Blekko into the competitive search market.

As it stands, Google still dominates the search market – made clear by comScore data released this week. Nonetheless, Hitwise data suggests that Yahoo and Bing are the most successful portals in generating clicks for websites based on searches.

Even while Hitwise suggested Yahoo sites were fielding an increasing number of queries in November, the company faced a lot of negative press this week. Yahoo laid off 600 workers, and internal information about cutting products leaked. As Brafton reported, Yahoo has confirmed it will be cutting a number of products (including Yahoo Buzz), and other sites – like Delicious – may not be removed, but given "new homes."

Marketers may want to make note of this and what it might indicate about the future of Yahoo as they plan their content and search campaigns, especially since a widely circulated report from Pew revealed that search is the second most common online activity for Americans of all generations, closely following email. (Concurrently, there were ample reports this week about the efficacy of email marketing and plans to increase email budgets in 2011.)

The Pew study also shed light on the fact that 75 percent of Americans look for news online and that online news readership is on the rise. Similarly, eMarketer released a report this week that indicated there is a growing online audience for news – one marketers may not want to ignore. This information could be key to marketers planning their content marketing campaigns for 2010.

Moreover, internet marketers may want to invest more heavily in content and all other types of online marketing next year. A study released by Forrester revealed that consumers' online time is now equal to time spent watching television, suggesting internet marketing budgets must increase to keep up with demand.

News of the increased importance of online marketing seemed to be confirmed by this week's news that Green Monday saw record-breaking online spend, making it the second-biggest shopping day to date. Plus, comScore predicts that there will be even more online shopping next week, as 32 percent of consumers say they are not done making holiday purchases.

Next week, marketers will want to look for reports on last-minute online holiday spend. Microsoft might also make the news as the online marketing community awaits consumers' initial response to Bing's new search tools and any more details about a possible Microsoft/Twitter alliance.   

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.