This time it’s really happening: by the end of Q1 2012 Yahoo and Microsoft will have merged their search technology and services in the UK and France and will work as one search engine with 2 interfaces.
From the users perspective not much will change. A combined approximate 9% of users in the UK will continue searching either here:
Search results are expected to have higher relevancy due to the Microsoft search algorithm, which should result in an improved user experience, but could also mean higher click through rates for advertisers.
Based on initial data from Search Alliance results in the US, there is an expectation that Yahoo and Bing combined users will convert more and spend more than users of other engines in the long run. Time will tell – in the meantime it’s worth getting ready for the Alliance, just in case…
So what exactly is going to happen “in the background”?
1. the Yahoo Panama platform will be discontinued, while the Microsoft technology (including the search algorithm) will be used for both interfaces. Advertiser accounts will be “switched off” on Panama and kept live on Adcenter at different dates along March and April.
2. Once the Search Alliance is completed, Yahoo client servicing teams will maintain relationships with advertisers, while Microsoft staff will be available for technical issues, through the Yahoo client servicing team.
3. Microsoft Adcenter advertising accounts will be used going forward – unlike in the US, advertisers won’t have the choice between keeping the Yahoo OR the Bing account live.
Contrary to the US, advertisers in the UK and France won’t need to choose between their Yahoo or Bing account. Bing accounts will automatically be kept live with the Search Alliance and Yahoo accounts will be discontinued.
To avoid significant traffic fluctuations during transition time, it will be of advantage to “match” Yahoo and Bing accounts now, working towards both account and keyword parity. This way, the Microsoft Adcenter account will be ready to go once the Alliance kicks in.
Ultimately the Search Alliance is designed to make it easier for advertisers to be present on both Yahoo and Bing: having to deal with only one tool and technology rather than 2 (and as different as Panama and MSN Adccenter), may well make it worth for more advertisers to invest time and money in Yahoo and Bing. Q2 will bring some results and hopefully interesting news!