Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance: What it Means for Small Business

28 07 2010

While the approaching merger between Yahoo! and Microsoft, officially known as the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance may not be news to many in the industry, there are several things small businesses should be aware of.  Fundamentally, the merger will not change how end users receive and employ organic and paid results, as Yahoo! and Bing will keep their unique, branded interfaces as separate entities.  Consumers will still perform search queries and utilize the results on the search engine of their choice, Yahoo! or Bing, and receive a differentiated consumer experience on each.  The main point of difference will be in the way organic and paid results are served.  Bing’s algorithmic technology will power both Yahoo! and Bing’s organic results, while Microsoft’s adCenter will generate the paid listings for both engines.

Overview: Elements of the Alliance

Yahoo! and Microsoft have been looking towards this transition as the key to solidifying a competitive future in search, predominantly paid search (against Google).  The algorithmic technology of Bing combined with the larger market reach of Yahoo! will provide consumers with sustainable search innovation and relevant, reliable results, while businesses can count on a more competitive advertising alternative (to Google AdWords).  This transition will primarily affect Yahoo! and Bing’s individual PPC programs by bringing them under one umbrella using Microsoft adCenter.

  • Essentially, SEO strategy will not change.  However, small businesses should expect to see variations in traffic and organic position as Bing’s algorithm is rolled out across Yahoo!.
  • What will change is how the  individual Yahoo! and Microsoft PPC advertising interfaces will become a unified advertising marketplace.  Ultimately, this consolidation will simplify the current PPC interfaces into one advertising program, powered by Microsoft adCenter.
  • Small businesses will be able to effectively distribute ads to Yahoo! and Bing through one platform.
  • To better compete with Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter will be adding usability features and functionality similar to the AdWords platform and Editor product, to make the experience more intuitive for the majority of advertisers who are already familiar with the AdWords interface.

What’s Next

The timeline for the Search Alliance rollout is early fall, prior to the 2010 holiday advertising season.  Should there be any delay in the transition, Yahoo! and Microsoft will push the merger to the first quarter of 2011, to ensure holiday advertising is not affected.  To prepare for this initiative, small businesses should be aware of and ready for the transition to happen.

  • Existing Yahoo! accounts will need to be transitioned to Microsoft adCenter prior to the merger.
  • Start planning the transition now and get an expert involved (whether that be an agency or Yahoo!/Microsoft rep) to ensure accounts are properly transitioned, optimized and conversion tracking properly set-up.
  • As is the case with any PPC initiative, Formic will be carefully monitoring performance during this merge and helping clients make a smooth transition to adCenter.

With the Search Alliance transition slated to take place in a couple of months, Formic advises small businesses to gear up for new innovations to take place on the search front later this year.  Stay tuned as the Formic team provides updates and recommendations throughout the process.

We will touch on the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance in our upcoming Formic Media Seminar Series: PPC Fundamentals (register today as space is limited).

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