The search engine marketing landscape is ever changing, and the second half of this year will prove to be no different. There is one change that we’ve talked about with many of our clients, but unless you are immersed within the industry on a daily basis, this still may be unknown to you. Yahoo and Microsoft (Bing) have created a partnership called the Search Alliance.
So you may be asking, what exactly will be happening? Essentially two major changes will be taking place. One is with the organic search results and the other with the paid search results.
For organic search, Bing will be the driving force (algorithm) behind the results. Therefore, once this transition takes place, when you conduct a search on Yahoo!, the results that you see will be determined by the same algorithm that determines Bing’s organic results. That being said, we expect that soon Yahoo! and Bing will have the same organic results. The testing for the organic results is said to begin this summer, with the full (organic) transition taking place in August / September. Keep in mind that once this transition takes place, Yahoo’s search results may still have a Yahoo look and feel. So if you’ve never really cared or paid attention to your Bing positions, you definitely need to now!
On the paid search side, a lot of changes are also being made. Until now, marketers have been using two different platforms for managing their advertising on Bing and Yahoo. With the Search Alliance, marketers will now use one platform — Microsoft’s adCenter — to manage their paid search. The paid search transition should be finalized before the holiday season, but it could be pushed back into 2011 if needed. While many are touting that this will be easier for advertisers as they’ll have one place to manage their ads for both Yahoo and Bing, there are a few critical things that should be considered. First, there will no longer be a way to monitor your Bing ads separately from your Yahoo! ads. Your ads will soon be eligible to show on the “Search Alliance”. In addition, as you probably have experienced, Bing and Yahoo! have different searcher demographics. As this Search Alliance takes place, your campaigns will likely require lots of initial monitoring and optimization tactics as a result of this “new” market. Also, if you transition your campaigns from another account over to adCenter, you will be starting with a blank slate in terms of historical performance, which will have to be built up over time.
I’m sure everyone heard the news a few weeks ago that Microsoft made an offer to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion. Here’s a quick recap. Soon after the announcement, Yahoo’s stock went up, then Yahoo declined Microsoft’s offer, saying that they would like to hold out for better suitors. Is Yahoo holding out for more money, or do they just not want to sell to Microsoft? Yahoo said they would decide by March 14, but time is ticking.
Other suitors have expressed interest during Yahoo’s delay, including Time Warner Inc.’s AOL and News Corp.’s MySpace.com. Yahoo claims that they are not delaying the Microsoft deal in hopes they will come to a deal with either AOL or MySpace, but that they are trying to elect board members to the Yahoo committee to decide on the impending deal. They could also be waiting for a better offer from Microsoft, which some analysts say will probably happen.
Another issue has arisen since the delay in the deal, the U.S. economy. There are concerns about how well the online advertising market will fare in this lackluster economy. The economic worries have contributed to a twenty-one percent decline in Internet search and advertising leader Google Inc.’s stock price since Microsoft pounced on Yahoo. An alliance with MySpace.com looked like Yahoo’s most likely escape route a couple weeks ago, but talks with AOL have recently heated up. Hopefully a conclusion to this deal will happen soon, but it does look probable to me that Microsoft will purchase Yahoo.