Yahoo Can Now Serve Its Own Search Ads on Desktop

Since 2009, Yahoo search has essentially been a rebranded Bing experience. In a joint announcement released today, the companies have come to a “revised search agreement”, according to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

While complete details are still forthcoming, what we do know now is that Microsoft’s previous 100% SOV on desktop search results within Yahoo properties will soon be lessened — Bing will still serve 51% of search ads on desktop, but Yahoo sales teams will have the freedom to sell advertising through their Gemini platform and/or source ads from other partners. 

Though not expressly noted in the press release, Search Engine Land joins me in speculating that Google’s ears may have perked-up by this news. If you recall, Google made a play to be the exclusive paid search provider for Yahoo back in 2008 — prior to the deal with Microsoft was reached — but cancelled their plans when antitrust charges were threatened.

There’s also no word on how Yahoo will handle Bing ads vs. their own. While they still must serve 51% of their advertising from Bing, there’s a question on how the company will integrate its own ads. Will Yahoo Gemini get position preference? That has yet to be defined.

Also still up in the air is what will happen with organic search results on Yahoo. The original partnership had Bing providing all organic results through its own technology; while Bing will still power Yahoo search, Bing results will only be required to fulfill 51% of organic queries.

The “revised” Yahoo/Bing partnership may seem like it heavily favors Yahoo — and it does — however, Bing has some momentum going on its side as well. According to the March 2015 desktop search rankings released by comScore yesterday, Bing has topped the 20% share mark, while Yahoo is sitting at third with 12.7%. The two companies have literally swapped rankings since the deal was reached in 2009.

Under the original 2009 agreement, Yahoo was granted full-control of mobile search ads; though, Bing has provided backfill results as needed. Unless Yahoo begin to have more demand for mobile directly (or, they do partner with someone like Google), this is likely to continue.

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