False dawn: what Bing and Yahoo’s divorce will mean for advertisers

Gary NissimGary Nissim, explains why Bing and Yahoo!’s partnership has been unable to compete with Google when it comes to search.

Four years is a long time in the digital world. In July 2009, Yahoo promised us that it would raise the bar in search marketing and more effectively compete against Google.

Its battle plan for accomplishing that herculean task was to enlist Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) to power Yahoo search results.

There was fanfare and promises of big-spending ad campaigns, and more promises of increased functionality and a new interface. Four years later, none of that has happened.

The sad thing is that Bing’s ‘consumer functionality’ and its ‘advertiser interface’ are genuinely impressive and available in other markets. The interface provides advertisers with better targeting and reporting, while Bing’s functionality includes products such as the Travel Price Predictor.

All that has happened is that Bing has slightly increased its market share while Yahoo and Google’s share has remained relatively static. In essence nothing has changed and Google still has its largest market in Australia share of any country at over 90 per cent.

All this is particularly interesting at the moment because from next week – 24 July 2013, to be exact – Yahoo and Bing are getting divorced. So from next Wednesday, when you advertise with Yahoo Search Marketing you will no longer be advertising on Bing. If you want to target Bing users, you will have to do so with a separate account via Mi9. The move also means that Yahoo’s search audience is about to be slashed by 30%.

There are signs that this is not an amicable divorce, but that’s not what interests or troubles me. I’d like to say I know why but no one’s talking.

What troubles me is that this split will only increase the industry’s reliance on Google. Most of our clients would rather see their market share on Google increase than dilute it by transferring investment onto Yahoo / Bing. Their reasoning is that as long as the return on Google is comparable, why waste resource targeting such a small percentage of the market? With the two parting ways, this issue will only be exasperated.

The question I want answered is how Microsoft and Yahoo independently plan on making headway in the search market in Australia. I’d also like to know how they are going to increase their own market share. And what functionality are they going to produce? Can they set themselves apart or are they going to keel over and die?

If I had my way, Yahoo and Microsoft would have to keep the promises of 2009.

They need to work together and increase their combined user base via Microsoft’s distribution points. They would use the Bing Advertiser Interface (AdCentre) to provide better targeting options for their clients but most importantly provide consumers with the type of functionality the US has access to and that will set them apart from Google.

Gary Nissim is the General Manager at digital agency Agency M Australia.


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