How to Navigate Through a Breakup: Changes to the Yahoo/Bing Alliance

By April 23, 2015No Comments

By Daniel Olduck, VP, Search Strategy

290-x-175_bingyahooRemember the Yahoo! Panama platform, Overture, and all the days of having multiple engines to manage just a fraction of your PPC budgets? I do, and not particularly fondly.

The recent news of changes in the Yahoo/Bing agreement was pretty significant, and follows the recent trend of Yahoo! navigating away from the previous arrangement.

The revised agreement means Yahoo now only has to serve Bing results on a majority of its search queries – and a majority is defined by 51%.

Why did Yahoo do this? Easy: to have more control of the company’s results and monetization of same. Some expect Yahoo to aim to sell this inventory to Google, however I believe they plan to own it, as this is the next logical step following the introduction of the Yahoo Gemini platform. Gemini’s exclusive Yahoo! ad formats for mobile and native results were not included under the prior agreement.

While not confirmed, it is very likely that Yahoo will leverage Gemini to now provide its own style of results for desktop. Bing has little incentive to make it easy for Yahoo to do this, so integration of these platforms is unclear at the moment.[pullquote cite=”Daniel Olduck” type=”left”]The revised agreement means Yahoo now only has to serve Bing results on a majority of its search queries – and a majority is defined by 51%.[/pullquote]

This also comes at an interesting milestone of Bing reaching just over 20% market share. Combined with Yahoo, the total share for both is more than 30%. We’ve also seen slight growth in the percentage of our advertising spend to those engines, but not always matching the distribution seen below.


What to expect with this change?

We’re back to the days of three Big Player search platforms managed separately. It already existed if you counted Gemini previously, but now it covers a larger market share.

  • Start getting your budgets, reports and platforms in order to take into consideration a “third” engine if you’re not already doing so already.
  • Yahoo will only be able to separate a portion of its own results. Some will still be powered by Bing/Adcenter. If we use the comScore numbers, this affects approximately 5-7% of the total Search inventory.
  • It’s expected Yahoo will try to remain as consistent to the other platforms as possible to make sure ad transitions are seamless, but some changes may occur.

Does this matter to my campaign?

If you’re currently buying Bing this will affect you in terms of both performance and support, but probably not enough to be too concerned about.

  • Expect to see Yahoo reps suddenly very keen on getting you on their new platform when it’s up and running. Leverage them as much as possible; let them work for that media money instead of your teams.
  • Be careful that Yahoo does not automatically opt your budget and ads into this new setup without you understanding what’s going on.
  • Since Adcenter is supported by Yahoo, Microsoft will not be too happy with these funds being diverted, and they certainly will not want you working with a Y! team incentivized to get your money away from Adcenter. We have already received notice from Microsoft expecting a change in support.
  • If you were not utilizing a bid tool but managing on multiple engines, now may be the time to reconsider once all the platforms are up to date with bid tools. Making sure that your tracking is consistent across engines and platforms is going to become a little trickier.
  • It may now be worth reviewing if Yahoo provides a valuable audience to you. Done via analytics, this may provide insight into whether this audience behaves differently or provides value enough to provide your next steps.

All in all, while many details still need to be worked out, this change is a bit of a nuisance with little gain for advertisers. After all the back and forth of alliance and engine rebrands, we’re back where we started with Google, Yahoo and MSN—the latter two still fighting over 20-30% of the market. Google still reigns supreme and the additional hassle to manage the platforms just makes it easier for Google to perpetuate its monopoly.

Perhaps Yahoo will now further leverage this with other efforts to increase market share, but Yahoo efforts in recent years seem more focused around stealing marketshare through integration of default engines  versus superior products and brand awareness increase.

Stay tuned for more updates as more info from Yahoo and Bing arise.


Daniel leads Acronym’s global paid search strategy across all media channels. For the previous four years, Daniel was based in Acronym’s Singapore office, specializing in regional PPC initiatives and was responsible for managing Acronym Asia’s key accounts. With particular expertise in the technology and travel industries, Daniel has extensive experience in enterprise-level paid search and has run campaigns in over 20 markets and multiple local languages and currencies. His Client portfolio includes IBM, Adobe, British Airways, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, Virgin, Cisco, Sony and Yahoo!.

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