Just when you thought that nothing truly exciting occurred any longer within the search landscape (can any digital tactics be considered mature?) we get an announcement from Yahoo! and Bing that they have made changes to their search partnership agreement. This announcement signifies big changes to your search efforts; indeed, advertisers should already be working to prepare for the Summer 2015 transition. Let’s take a look at how this will impact search in 2015.
And then there were three…
In some ways the recent announcement brings us back to the former glory days of paid search. With Yahoo!’s Gemini platform, advertisers will now have to upload and optimize campaigns in Yahoo! separately, just as they do with Google and Bing. While first reactions may include a collective groan, it’s worth noting that with Y!’s November 2014 agreement with Firefox they have increased their market share from 2.8% to 13% of the search marketplace.
Not all of this comes at the expense of Bing, either. Collectively, Y! and Bing now enjoy around 34% of the market, up from around 29% at the beginning of 2015.
Opportunity favors the bold
Recently I wrote an article outlining the advantages to investing in Bing. All of these principals still hold true, and through the end of Q1 this year I’m still amazed that many of our key competitors still focus solely on Google. The good news is that for the adventurous of us, the advantages that Bing provides will be amplified in Yahoo! – albeit for a short time. As mainstream advertisers and the competition take time to fully exploit Gemini expect to see an even bigger discount on cost-per-clicks when compared to Google. Additionally, expect a relatively competitor-free zone that affords savvy advertisers the opportunity to get their ads in first position for less.
It will start with mobile
The announcement reveals that all mobile search via Yahoo! will be served through Gemini. This means that advertisers who delay in replicating their Bing campaigns in Gemini face the prospect of missing out on a large percentage of their mobile search traffic. Mobile search makes up 30% – 50% of all searches, making it important for advertisers and agencies running mobile campaigns to begin using this new platform. Bing will continue to serve mobile ads on Microsoft and partner sites, but will no longer serve across Yahoo! properties.
Don’t forget desktop
Yahoo! will begin serving 49% of impressions of desktop impressions with Bing serving the remaining. While the results will initially be similar between the two engines, expect important differences to begin emerging as each engine’s algorithm diverges over time.
While the face of SEO may be changing the underlying principles remain the same. SEO is about tailoring your site to provide the most authentic user experience available. The key to success centers on ensuring that best practices are integrated throughout the production cycle and not implemented as a technical afterthought.
Impact on your search approach
Tactically, search marketers who want to remain ahead of the curve should start working with their Bing reps to import current campaigns into the Gemini platform on Y!. The platform should look and feel relatively familiar and, at first, employ most of the same optimization levers currently familiar to those accustomed to running Bing campaigns. From a paid search perspective there will be no changes to creative. However, users will of course have the option to include images with their search creative in a format to be supported, similar to Y! Stream Ads. This can now be run within Gemini as well.
Strategically, this will allow for further campaign insights and recommendations moving forward as advertisers relearn the various nuances that exist in a market dominated by three engines. Efficiency and competitive advantage will be the prominent themes initially, but expect Gemini to provide lasting advantages especially as it pertains to mobile search. The added ability of including native advertising campaigns alongside your SEM efforts in Gemini should open the door to greater data attribution and analysis tools over the long term.
Expect to initially dedicate around 10-15% of your Bing search budgets to Gemini. Once advertisers are in market they may find that Gemini commands a higher percentage based on efficiency.
The new announcement between Bing and Yahoo! opens the door to substantial opportunity for those advertisers willing to act fast. If your approach to search still doesn’t include Yahoo! or Bing, now is the time to take a step back to plan a test-and-learn method designed to ensure you’re getting your message to as much of the relevant search audience as possible.
Oliver Nelson currently leads digital media strategy across several healthcare, pharmaceutical and OTC categories with a focus on digital display, social media, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO.) While Mr. Nelson’s passion lies with SEO, he has over ten years’ experience in retail and corporate marketing, sales and advertising and has managed both online and offline media campaigns for several private and public organizations. Mr. Nelson graduated from the Boston College Carroll School of Management with a Bachelors of Science in marketing. In addition, Mr. Nelson is a top graduate of the United States Army Intelligence School and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.