The Microsoft/Yahoo Search Alliance: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

typing-690856_640On April 16th, Yahoo and Bing (Microsoft) announced an amendment to their previous search arrangement.

This has some people scratching their heads, unsure of just what that actually means.

And it has others sweating bullets as they realize they’ll soon have to start mastering yet another paid search platform if they want to maintain traffic.

We’ve been on the phone with Yahoo and Bing representatives a lot lately, so here’s the inside scoop, simplified as much as possible.

Here’s the Breakdown

Currently, the Microsoft/Yahoo deal means Bing Ads serves on 100% of Yahoo traffic. So every time you run a search on Yahoo, the ads you see are coming from Bing’s advertising program.

But now, with the amended deal, Yahoo is starting to kick out on its own, with the new ability to serve ads from its proprietary Gemini platform on 100% of smartphone and tablet searches, and 49% of desktop searches.

This is something of a seismic shift for search engine advertisers everywhere. It raises a lot of questions like:

  • What kind of traffic decline should I expect for my Bing campaigns?
  • How different is Yahoo Gemini from Bing Ads and Google AdWords?
  • Does this change affect my Google campaigns?

Some of these will be answered here, but other questions are more complicated, so I strongly encourage you to register today for our free webinar, 3 Paid Search News Headlines You Can’t Afford to Ignore: Mandatory Actions to Successfully Navigate the Upcoming Bing/Yahoo/Google Changes. This webinar will go far more in depth, and has the added benefit of our own Yahoo support team joining us live to answer your questions.

So How Does It Affect YOU?

That’s the big question, right? What can you expect from this change for the industry giants? Some of the fallout remains to be seen, but so far we’re seeing both good news and bad news for you, the ecommerce retailer.

The Bad News…

#1 – The Potential for Lost Traffic

This is the biggest fear in most people’s mind at this news, and here’s how it breaks down:

Retailers who are only using AdWords – this really won’t affect you much. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s important to know that, at least for now, AdWords traffic won’t really be changing much for Google-only advertisers.

Retailers who have been using Bing Advertising, however, stand to see anywhere from a 30% to 60% decrease in clicks, by our experts’ estimations. And because smartphone and tablet searches are only increasing, Gemini could even become the dominant platform, at least in some retail categories.

But the biggest loss will be for retailers who are currently advertising heavily on mobile and tablet traffic with Bing – or are converting well on those devices. While 51% of Bing ads will continue to serve on Yahoo desktop search traffic for now, no Bing ads will now serve on Yahoo mobile and tablet searches.

#2 – A 3rd Major System to Manage

For retailers who aren’t willing to stand by and lose all that traffic (and hopefully that’s you!), this means a third major platform to manage. And this learning curve + an additional platform = more time required in your paid search efforts just in order to keep your accounts at the pre-Gemini status quo. That bad news is self-explanatory.
#3 – Gemini is not at the Level of Bing & Google

In our experience with Gemini, it still has a long way to go before it reaches the sophistication of AdWords, or even Bing Ads. While we’re certain Yahoo will be working overtime to improve their platform now that they’re seeing higher traffic, it won’t happen immediately. This means bumps and potentially bruises as you learn how to optimize for this new platform.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s still a set of Ginsu knives for those who act now!

The Good News…

#1 – It’s a Fact of Life: Early Adopters Win.

Anybody who has ever wanted stock in Exxon-Mobil, Google, or Apple knows that the guys who see opportunity early and jump on it before everyone else – those are the ones who win big.

The same applies here. If you are willing to dedicate the time and resources to lock down a solid plan for advertising on Gemini, you are going to enjoy benefits like low cost-per-click, decreased competition, and a competitive advantage that you will keep even once Gemini becomes more mainstream.

This is because you will be ahead of the curve – you will have the experience, tests, and failures behind you and know how to optimize this platform for your business. (And that’s while everyone else is still trying to figure out how to use a new platform, by the way.)

I’m not going to lie – it will take a good deal of effort, or some extra expenditure (if you end up hiring a dedicated paid search analyst or an agency), but from what we’ve seen with people who adopted Bing and AdWords early? It will be well worth it.

#2 – You Can Better Take Advantage of Key Mobile Traffic

It’s no secret that mobile is quickly rising and set to one day surpass desktop traffic. (Don’t believe me? Just check out the data.) So if you can be an early adopter who gets established on Gemini – which is geared towards mobile and tablet – you are set to take advantage of the ever-increasing mobile sector of search traffic.

This is critical for any retailer with the long-term strategy in mind.

#3 – You Can Copy Bing Campaigns (If You Hurry)

Right now, Yahoo is still running support as per usual on your (formerly) Yahoo/Bing Network accounts. And while everything is still in transition to the new normal, Yahoo is helping people copy Bing campaigns to Gemini – which will save you a lot of time and effort if you act now.

This is something Justin D’Angelo (our Director of Paid Search) and Melissa Gerber, our rep at Yahoo, will be talking about live on Thursday – it’s too detailed and complicated to go into here.

Just know that this is a great option for you if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to get in early on Yahoo Gemini.

So What Should You Do About It?

The logical next question of course, is – “what should I do with this information?” It does you no good to see the train coming from a mile away if you don’t get off the tracks.

1. Talk to your Yahoo support team. They can help you make the transition more easily and transition campaigns to Gemini.

2. Sign up for a Yahoo Gemini account and start exploring. Start reading the support files. Learn all you can so that you can start winning with this new platform before others even have it on their to-do list.

3. Download our exclusive whitepaper for more facts, stats, and action steps that you can easily keep on hand or pass on to your team.

Image by David Castillo Dominici

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