Yahoo has been increasing its search share in the U.S., largely thanks to the deal with Firefox. According to StatCounter, in January 2015, Google fell below 75% search share for the first time, while Yahoo reached its highest U.S. search share in more than five years.
The increase in search share can be directly attributed to the partnership with Firefox. When StatCounter removed Firefox users from the analysis, no difference in search share was seen. Although Firefox has a smaller presence in the browser space, a major partnership with a leading browser, such as Safari, could be a game-changer.
A decrease in search share was anticipated for January since the partnership was rolled out in December. However, Yahoo's search share increased, albeit slightly. This was not simply a shift from Bing’s share -- instead, Google’s share actually decreased. This positive trend illustrates how powerful partnerships with browsers can be for search networks to increase their share in the space.
How can changes from Apple and Safari affect the marketplace?
With iOS overtaking Android in the U.S., a change in the Safari option will greatly impact the mobile search marketplace. Based on a job posting, there have been recent rumors that Apple may release its own search engine. This could mean a new competitor can enter the market with significant search presence -- something that has not been seen in over a decade.
What can we expect from a potential Yahoo and Safari partnership?
Since the partnership, Google has lost 4% market share. In fact, Google is now prompting Firefox users to switch back when they visit Google.com, which is likely due to fear and concern about the loss of market share. Now that Google and Safari’s partnership is about to end and Yahoo has proven the success of its partnership with Firefox, a deal with Safari could help Yahoo reach its highest share in the marketplace since its decline. If the Yahoo and Safari partnership was to occur, Yahoo will likely take on 33% of Safari users as was seen with Firefox users. Specifically, there may be large increases in mobile and tablet market share as Safari is the default browser for all iOS systems including iPhones and iPads. Since Safari currently holds 60% of the mobile browser market share, mobile impact will be the largest and cause a 20% decrease in mobile browser activity for Google.
Based on these projections, advertisers will need to rethink how budgets are allocated. Since the 4% increase in Yahoo market share, the budget split is now around 25% for the Yahoo-Bing network and 75% for Google. If the deal with Safari/Yahoo does happen, Yahoo could increase its search market share in the search space by 4.7%, bringing the budget distribution to a split of 30% for the Yahoo-Bing network and 70% for Google. This will make a significant impact on Google, with a potential loss of $865,000.
Savvy advertisers will recognize that a large portion of this traffic is from mobile devices and will primarily shift mobile dollars when reallocating budget. If Yahoo recognizes this advantage in the mobile space, they will release more products and betas for mobile devices specifically built for the Safari experience. They can use these learnings to adjust their ad offerings to be better tailored for devices. This can lead to even greater gains for the Yahoo-Bing network in the mobile space and the search space as a whole, requiring advertisers to devote even more dollars to Yahoo/Bing.