Warren Cowan, CEO of search specialist ageny Greenlight, says: “The idea that a Yahoo/Bing merger will create a search player with close to 30% market share might be accurate for the US, where Google’s share is approximately 65% but across the rest of the world and in the UK, where Google holds nearer to 90% market share, a possible deal will have less of an impact, as even Bing and Yahoo combined won’t dent Google’s dominance in Western Europe.
“A deal may shake up the industry in the US but as for the UK, it would probably have little or no impact at all – at least not in the short term.”
Speculation suggests that the deal will see Yahoo sell search ads under Microsoft’s Bing brand
Cowan is also scathing about the rumours of a full blown merger and says that at this stage it sounds like more of an agreement to share each other’s real estate and technologies.
He adds: “Furthermore, the suggestion that a potential deal would lead to anti-trust issues seems largely hypocritical as Google has already been allowed to take 65% market share in the US and around 90% in the UK and rest of Western Europe.”
Cowan also feels such a deal could backfire in that while it provides one competitor for Google in the search market, it precludes the emergence of “a third strong player” in the market.
“Although this deal may give Google a run for its money, it doesn’t actually foster competition as any third player would be so small that they will be unable to compete with Google and Yahoo/Bing. It would have been better if Yahoo had become a stronger player on its own, but it was never capable of achieving that.
“A deal won’t change things massively for the ordinary consumer as it doesn’t make Bing or Yahoo more attractive as an engine. Whether it’s a good deal in the long run remains to be seen.
He points out that the partnership will not actually give the Bing brand any great exposure: “Google has massive media ownership. At the moment, unlike Google, not everyone goes to Bing or Yahoo. Bing powering Yahoo doesn’t mean that everyone will use Bing, it just means that those using Yahoo are seeing stuff powered by Bing, but probably won’t even know its Bing. What Bing needs is a big property and good distribution with partners. It needs a solid base in both camps and this doesn’t really strengthen its base in either camp.
“There’s no brand building effort here for Microsoft that’s going to make Bing a leading brand, which is what it needs if it’s going to steal market share from Google. It needs brand power, not just white labelled back door distribution. on the Yahoo – Microsoft Search deal.”
Martin McNulty, director of search marketing specialist Trafficbroker, adds: “Hype aside, for the man in the street this deal will have very little impact. Neither Bing nor Yahoo! offers anything over and above what Google does, and despite Yahoo! now agreeing to show its users Bing results, how many people, realistically, will notice this — or feel they are being better served?
“From an advertiser’s perspective, the ramifications of this deal are potentially much worse. Bing’s platform for search advertisers is vastly inferior to that of Yahoo!, so consolidating Bing and Yahoo! on a single platform will reinforce the inferior experience compared to Google and could, in the long term, severely damage future revenues.”