SAN FRANCISCO -- When Yahoo! ( YHOO) missed estimates during the second quarter, investors gave the company what amounted to a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

After third-quarter results are announced Tuesday, however, the struggling Internet giant might have to serve some hard time.

Given the current weakness in online display advertising, the company can't help but feel some pain, especially because of its heavy investment in that area, where it is known as a market leader.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, total revenue generated from search ads in the first six months of the year was up 24% compared to the same period a year ago, but revenue from display ads was up only 19% from the same period a year ago.

"Our channel checks indicate the market for display ads, particularly branded or CPM-based ads, continues to worsen beyond our prior expectations and from Q2 levels," wrote Bank of America analyst Brian Pitz in a research note. "Given the current market environment, we believe advertisers are likely to hold back on discretionary brand-building dollars in favor of measurable search and performance-based display advertising."

Analysts expect Yahoo! to earn 9 cents a share on revenue of $1.37 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs.

Yahoo! is also up against an investor base that is growing increasingly impatient with its performance. During its second quarter, the company had the distraction of Microsoft ( MSFT)-induced proxy battle to blame, at least in part, for its earnings miss.

On Jan. 31, Microsoft made an unsolicited bid of $31 a share to purchase Yahoo!. The deal collapsed even after Microsoft raised the bid to $33 a share. Amid all the merger talk, activist investor Carl Icahn added to the chaos by seeking to oust Yahoo!'s entire board. In the end, he settled for three seats, including one for himself.

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