Microsoft & Yahoo At It Again

by , Jul 24, 2009, 10:30 AM
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At the time I am actually writing this column, there is no Microsoft/Yahoo deal in place; but by the time it is published, there may be. Industry experts have refused to let this potential deal go. After all, we want Google to have real competition; we need Google to have real competition. You've heard this before and you're with me, right?

 

As a deal once again seems imminent, I have to wonder: Should we be careful what we wish for?

Last month, I wrote about "The Latest on Bing." Since then we have made some headway on getting ads to serve more consistently, but there are still branded keyword ads not showing, and, to be frank, Bing isn't special. Any reported gains are still so minimal that even large percentages equate to very small raw numbers. Even in the last month, I have found myself justifying a paid search presence on Bing to some clients.

When talks of a Microsoft/Yahoo deal first began, I remember attending a Microsoft agency party at a conference. That night I heard a Microsoft Advertising employee say, "We're Microsoft. If we can't gain market share, we buy it." I have not forgotten those words. I admire the company's pride and determination, but the revenue to be gained by acquiring Yahoo Search requires much more than an acquisition. There are improvements to be made to their product. These improvements require a commitment to making it different and better.

One could argue that there are other ways to "buy market share," but the context of the conversation was Yahoo. Even the alleged multimillion dollar ad campaign to support the launch of Bing has done very little to catch our attention. In fact, most people outside this industry haven't even noticed. Sure, I have seen some commercials that promise a better search experience, but that has yet to be proven to me. Bing is  stereotypical Microsoft.

So, there is roughly 20% search market share resting with Yahoo, and Microsoft might buy it. What does this mean for search marketers? Is Microsoft really ready to handle it? It does seem as though Yahoo is ready to give it up. Advertisers have so many questions, but this drama is what makes the search industry exciting. We never know what's next and how it will shape the future of the industry, but we sure do like to guess!

On a side note, I do still like the Bing homepage, it is still my default, but I still conduct my searches in my Google toolbar. I will let everyone know if that ever changes. Feel free to speculate names for this potential two-headed monster. My favorite so far is  BINGOO.

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