No matter which brand catchword you prefer, YaBing!, Microhoo!, BooHoo! or But It’s Not Google Yet (more catchword branding), the deal is done. It’s been approved and implementation has already begun. Microsoft and Yahoo! will team up at an attempt to produce a more profitable search business. Hopefully, this will also mean a better search experience for users.
This deal will affect search marketing on both sites for Search Engine Optimization and Paid Search. Here is some information on the specific changes effecting Paid Search advertisers’ campaign management, advertiser competition,and the implied customer service effects:
Account Management: Customer service greatly effects the ease of account management, but since that’s already been addressed I’ll focus more on the general effects that this merger will have on account management.
Overall, I suspect this partnership will be positive for advertisers, agencies and publishers. Microsoft adCenter’s platform has always been known for producing solid return on investment. The issue has been one of market/search share. Once the partnership implementation is complete, advertisers will need to manage one less account. Unfortunately, this will also increase bidding competition on both domains.
Platform Differences: By now most of the targeting is the same. Both providers have geo-targeting, demographic targeting, content network controls, etc. One of the few major changes will be keyword match types. Google has made the broad/phrase/exact/negative successful and easy to understand. Since Microsoft adCenter currently uses this style of match types, Yahoo! advertiser will soon as well. Good riddance to Yahoo!’s standard and advanced match.
The second positive change that will come of this transition is the death of the Yahoo! ‘bulksheet’. Yahoo! advertisers have craved an AdWords Editor-like application to replace the bulksheet for years. Microsoft has come to the rescue with it’s adCenter Desktop application. Although it’s still in beta and buggy at times, it’s miles ahead of the bulksheet in terms of usability.
One big downside regarding the switch from Yahoo!’s Panama management interface to Microsoft adCenter is that adCenter is buggy. From the management interface to the reports center, results have been known to report inconsistantly. Double and triple checks should become routine for Yahoo! advertisers who are new to Microsoft adCenter.
Customer Service: As a part of the arrangement, Microsoft will be keeping Yahoo!’s customer service staff. I see this as being one of the few great ideas that will come of the deal. I’ve worked with both of these companies managing PPC campaigns for several years now. Yahoo!’s customer service is far superior to Microsoft. To put it more clearly as to the magnitude of difference, I’ll rank the three leaders on a 1-10 scale:
- Google – 8
- Yahoo! – 9
- Bing – 3
Though these opinions are solely my own, I suspect that they cannot be far from the popular opinion.
To be fair to those who work in an outsourced adCenter call center, Yahoo!’s customer service excellence is only partially due to its great people. Yahoo! also has a system in place that supports good service and allows their people to do a great job. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, Microsoft hasn’t provided a proper environment for their service staff in the past.
I can only hope that the environmental challenges Yahoo!’s service staff will encounter with Microsoft do not reduce the great service they’ve provided over the years.
Summary: In short, I’m excited about this deal, even though many of the details are still up in the air. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo! still will not be able to truely challenge Google’s dominance in the Paid Search space, but nevertheless, this change should still produce a better sponsored search experience for users of all types.