07/29/09
Microsoft and Yahoo! Boohoo for Google?

Not likely – or at least not yet anyway!

Today Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that they have (finally) completed a 10-year search deal which will help them be more competitive against the giant that is Google. However, they haven’t combined their advertising businesses.

Microsoft Yahoo Partnership

Microsoft Yahoo Partnership

Yahoo! currently has about 20 percent of the global search market, with Microsoft hanging behind with just under 10 percent which leaves Google with the lion’s share of the remaining 70 percent. Many have estimated that Google will begin to lose market share to Microsoft’s Bing as it gains popularity through its visual superiority over Google, however other have argued that if this becomes the case then Google will just match Bing’s template ideas. They have still yet to prove if they do what they do better than Google, all they have shown us so far is that they do it prettier.

The question that now needs answering is what will happen to the search as a result of this partnership? Well, according to Reuters, under the deal announced on Wednesday, Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search technology for Yahoo’s sites, while Yahoo will be responsible for selling premium search ads for both companies.”

So how long has this engagement taken to come to its happy ending?

  • 01/02/2008 – Microsoft makes an offer out of the blue to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion or $31 a share, after two years of rumours of a merger
  • 03/02/2008 – Google lawyers announce the buyout will hurt Web innovation
  • 04/02/2008 – Yahoo’s Jerry Yang lets the employees know that selling to Microsoft is a possibility
  • 11/02/2008 – Yahoo! tells Microsoft ‘where to go’ saying their offer “substantially undervalues” Yahoo!
  • 19/02/2008Bill Gates announces that they’re not interested in raising the offer for the buyout. Yahoo! releases severance plan details that would take effect after the deal and make it more expensive for Microsoft
  • 05/03/2008 – Yahoo! announce and extend deadline for nominating candidates to its board, effectively buying time to come up with an alternative proposal. Rumours emerge that Yahoo are in talks with Google, MySpace and AOL
  • 18/03/2008 – Yahoo! release a very healthy revenue forecast for the following two years – basically telling Microsoft “you see, that’s why you’ve undervalued us!”
  • 05/04/2008Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer gets aggressive and gives Yahoo! a deadline of three weeks to accept the deal on the table or expect Microsoft to start hostile tactics and lower the offer price
  • 09/04/2008 – Yahoo! announces it’ll have a trial run of using Google’s ad platform in place of its own for a bit – Microsoft raise antitrust concerns
  • 26/04/2008 – Microsoft’s three week deadline expires
  • 01/05/2008 – Ballmer announces to its employees that he “won’t go a dime above” what he thinks Yahoo! is worth and is willing to walk away from the deal
  • 03/05/2008 – Microsoft increases its offer to $33 a share, Yang retorts by saying they want $37, Microsoft walks away
  • 15/05/2008 – Billionaire investor Carl Icahn says he’ll try to oust Yahoo’s board at its annual shareholder meeting if it doesn’t reopen talks with Microsoft and ditch plans to team up with Google.
  • 18/05/2008 – The pair get together to have a chat about a more limited deal, however after a month Yahoo announce the talks have stopped
  • 12/06/2008 – Google and Yahoo! officially announce a deal to run Google’s ads alongside Yahoo’s search results and some of its partner sites
  • 21/07/2008 – Icahn takes back his threat in exchange for three seats on Yahoo! board
  • 09/09/2009 – The U.S. Justice Department hires an antitrust litigator to review the pending Yahoo-Google search-advertising partnership.
  • 05/11/2008 – Google gets worried and cancels the partnership to avoid a Justice Department lawsuit. Yang can still see a Microsoft acquisition in the future
  • 17/11/2008 – Yang steps down as CEO for Yahoo!
  • 19/11/2008 – Ballmer washes his hands of the talks and says Microsoft is “done with all acquisition discussions with Yahoo!”
  • 05/12/2008 – Microsoft hires ex Yahoo! search executive Qi Li to lead its own online division
  • 13/01/2009 – Yahoo! hires Carol Bartz to replace Yang
  • 10/04/2009 – New reports emerge that Bartz and Ballmer have met about possible deals, including one in which Microsoft would sell advertising on Yahoo’s search pages and Yahoo would manage Microsoft’s display ads.
  • 03/06/2009 – Microsoft dumps Live Search and replaces it with Bing
  • 29/07/2009 – Microsoft, Yahoo! partnership announced

Now we wonder, is this going to be a marriage made in heaven – or can we expect to see the divorce papers come through shortly?

03/10/08
Loading…..”Hurry Up or Cough Up” says Google

Adding to the increasing complexity of the AdWords “Quality Score” algorithm, Google has announced that page loading times will soon become a key factor.

The intention is that sites runing advert-heavy pages will be penalised in an effort to improve the “user experience”. Google claims conversion rates are lower when page loading times are poor, as users abandon the site, a claim supported by many frustrated browsers.

Loading Please Wait

Losers

Flash Sites and Image-Heavy Websites – as Flash sites tend to require more image requests from the server than a typical html site, they may be penalised under the new calculations.

Poorly Hosted Websites – the jury is still out on whether cheaper hosting packages result in slower server responses, but inferior hardware undoubtedly takes its toll.

Winners

Text-Only Sites – we might see retailers using incredibly simple text-only landing pages (or maybe defaulting to the low-graphics accessibility pages?).

Google have not (and will not) release details of how much effect loading times will have on the quality score, for all we know it could be minimal, but Google are generally very commited to providing the best search results for their users. There are several conspiracy theories and there is no doubt that any changes will benefit Google’s profit margins but ultimately those who abide by the rules will be rewarded.

02/08/08
Businesses need to bid Smarter NOT Higher!

As more and more businesses realise the potential of advertising via search engines, the “bidding war” on search terms is hotting up.

adwords page.thumbnail Businesses need to bid Smarter NOT Higher!

Increasing bids on paid advertising on Google, MSN and Yahoo may increase your position in the listings, but with systems such as AdWords “Quality Score”, the bid is only the tip of the iceberg.

Quality Score ensures that advertisers with a well-considered search term list, relevant ad text and a good history of CTR (Click Through Rate) are rewarded over those that simply bid higher and higher.

Many businesses attempt to run their own Pay Per Click campaigns, selecting what they believe to be the most relevant search terms for their industry, then set a budget and aim to bid for the “top spots” on each search engine.

Without conducting the relevant search term research, optimising the campaign and then monitoring ad performance along with click through rates, the Quality Score will suffer.

The post-click analysis (utilising tracking software to link search terms to a goal such as an enquiry form or purchase receipt page) also performs a vital role, ensuring you bid on the correct search terms, have well-targetted adverts and are sending searchers to the most relevant page on your website (the landing page).

Additional attention to detail when running a Pay Per Click campaign is more essential now then ever before!