It’s as if they’ve become the kid in the playground that no one wants to play with anymore.
As we enter 2010, the Bing-Yahoo merger inches ever closer. But is interest in Yahoo! and Yahoo Search Marketing on the downslide?
On January 22, Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Land reported on the growth of search in 2009. While Search as a whole grew 46% globally, Yahoo saw only a 13% growth in use over their already small market share. Compare that number to the 58% growth experienced by Google sites, while Microsoft experienced a growth of 70%, and in many cases is the number 2 search engine now. Even Ask.com experienced an impressive growth of 43% over the past year.
(Note that the above numbers are for searches performed, and not actual clicks on organic or paid search results)
Rumours have bandied about the past few weeks about an update being performed on the Yahoo! site. The webmasters and marketers seeing these results only have speculation to work with, as they have seen spikes in traffic recently from Yahoo!. A quick check of a few TechWyse Analytics accounts pinpointed increases in a few accounts today, but nothing resembling a "spike" that others have seen. When these webmasters and marketers looked to Yahoo! for information, there was no post on the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog, nor anywhere else. The most recent post (the first in a month) was about employment changes at the executive level. Is the YSM Blog losing interest among it’s employees or have they scaled back in light of the coming merger?
I don’t know many people who use Yahoo! as a default engine anymore. Unless their computer came set up with it as the default search engine on their browser, and they lack the necessary "geek skills" to change it. Google is now a part of the "Kleenex effect", where a product name or company trademark becomes the accepted generic name for a product or service, while Bing has ramped up their advertising for the Bing "Decision Engine" across traditional media, especially television in the United States, and has seen their share rise in recent months. (see above).
Is It Right Or Left? Up or Down With Yahoo!?
Then we are presented with evidence that counters the appearance of diminished interest and use. On January 20, we received an interesting mail from Yahoo! outlining recent updates to the YSM platform, including new features like a Network Distribution Performance Report (performance on Yahoo! pages versus their partner sites), as well as an Ad Delivery Report, outlining where your ads appeared on partner sites and monetary data for those sites).
If the merger is planned for some time this year, what’s with the system upgrades? Are Yahoo! looking for a way to increase the value and functionality of YSM in the face of the merger? I’m just speculating again, but why the changes now? Why not last year, and why at all given the impending nuptials with Bing?
TechWyse has moved spend for some clients using both Bing and Yahoo! over to the Bing AdCenter area. Not all of it mind you, because both systems are still separate and to eliminate one target audience all together means missing out on potential leads and sales. But this past year has seen a number of accounts on Bing return a better CPA than those on the Yahoo! Search Marketing network, meaning that a client’s money is better spent on Bing.
I’m not advocating to drop Yahoo!, but I would say that Bing is probably my PPC engine of choice after Google AdWords. It drives some decent traffic and stastically is showing a CPA that is 45% of the CPA we see in Yahoo! for our clients. It’s important to note that these are with pretty much the same clients and number of campaigns across both PPC engines.
Bing Better For Conversion Than Yahoo!
It makes me wonder about the search habits of users on Yahoo! and Bing. Users seem to be better prepared to buy or request information from Bing.
Higher conversion rates from fewer total visitors resulting in equal actual conversions on Bing show me a highly qualified visitor. Is Yahoo’s searchers simply not as qualified? I think the change toward a higher qualified visitor on Bing comes from their decision to focus on search itself, and move away from the "portal page" idea that so many Bing/Live/Hotmail/Passport/whatever… visitors were previously presented with. Bing is similar to Google in that the search query field dominates because that’s the purpose of the site. Yahoo! remains a portal site, with News links, advertisements, services, surveys, and a number of other distractions. It just doesn’t seem as serious about search with some many other things going on.
I hope that once the Bing merger is completed we will begin to see better conversion numbers at Yahoo! But only time will tell and I probably shouldn’t hold my breathe. Competing with Google? Bing appears prepared to challenge Google unlike they have previously.