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MSN and Yahoo: Together at Last

It's official, MSN and Yahoo have worked out a deal by which the Bing platform will become the core for both natural and paid listings on both networks. Search Engine Land has a good write-up outlining the arrangement. Our take? This is a good thing for PPC on three fronts:
  1. The Yahoo service reps stay on using the MSN platform. This takes the best of both worlds. Yahoo's reps have always been top drawer in our experience and the Bing API interface is excellent -- it would be great if they didn't update the API every time there is a .net update, and if they didn't force ordering on XML which should be stateless, but...
  2. By combining traffic, the Bing and Yahoo data sets will be far more robust allowing data-driven firms to work more of their magic. Heck demographic targeting might actually become valuable when there is enough data to model.
  3. Reducing redundancy won't hurt. Having to launch promotional copy across three engines takes time. Dropping from 3 to 2 will reduce grunt work and allow our analysts more time to focus on higher value analysis.
None of this will happen over night. They expect to close the deal in early 2010 after careful sniffing by regulators, and "full implementation" may take 24 months. Will "Ya-Bing!" pose a real threat to Google? We'll see. Looking just at Paid Search, the share is still only 20%. Google is still hugely dominant. But it certainly gives Microsoft a fighting chance. Now, if they can just pry AOL away from Google...
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