Right on schedule, news of an “imminent” MSFT-YHOO search deal

By Kip Kniskern | In Opinion | Posted July 17, 2009 4 comments

microsoft-yahoo We haven’t been commenting much on the buzz surrounding Bing’s first month numbers, partly because we’ve grown a little tired of “woohoo a .4% increase” posts, partly because we’ve been stuck in the real world a bit this summer, and partly because we’ve been waiting for the Yahoo! shoe to drop.  That Bing has gotten off to a good start has been well documented around the web, enjoying lots of press, not all of it generated by the $100 million dollar ad campaign.  You can’t visit a tech news site without at least a bit of Bing news, proof the rebrand is having an effect.

But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that all the positive buzz around Bing isn’t going to do any good without a series of moves as bold or bolder than the rebrand itself.  Microsoft knew it needed Yahoo! a year before it made its public offer in February of 2008, and while it may have actually dodged a bullet by not acquiring the whole company, Steve Ballmer and company have never relented on their quest to nail down a search deal with Yahoo! 

So now, first with a one-line mention in a New York Times article on Bing, and in today’s post by Kara Swisher at All Things D, news is filtering out that a Microsoft-Yahoo! search deal might be reached as early as next week.  Microsoft and Bing need to keep the pressure up, in a big way.  Bing has been an unqualified hit, at least in terms of buzz, but that buzz can soon wear off.  Microsoft has been rolling out press releases on “new features” of Bing, but as we know, most if not all of the “new features” of Bing have been around, and incremental new features aren’t going to increase share substantially, anyway.  Just about the only way to gain the kind of share that Microsoft needs to have a fighting chance in the search wars is to buy it from Yahoo!, and everyone knows it.

Still, if (and that’s a big if) the deal takes place, it’s going to shake up not only the search wars, but also Microsoft’s own display advertising strategy, which Yahoo! may end up running if this all plays out as expected.  How MSN and Microsoft Advertising fit in to the new scheme of things may be as interesting to watch as how the search share numbers change with a Bing-Yahoo! partnership, this will be a large and complicated deal, if it comes to pass.  For Microsoft, for Bing, and yes even for Yahoo!, it makes a lot of sense, the timing is right, and the pieces are in place to make it work.  Of course we’ve been led down this path before, only to see deal after rumored deal fizzle out.  Let’s hope this one sees the light of day.

Posted July 17th, 2009 at 7:32 am
Category: Opinion
  • http://www.liveside.net/members/surilamin/default.aspx surilamin

    Interesting news, lets hope they’re not just rumors again…

    Oh, and kudos to you guys for not writing pointless stories about the buzz around bing. As you pointed out in an earlier post, a lot stories have been about “new” features in bing which were available in Live search, and that you had covered earlier.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/twiz/default.aspx twiz

    You have to look at the “pointless stories” differently.
    Even though the features aren’t “new” they are part of the buzz. Just because the features were there with Live, replacing them with Bing is enough to say they are “new” and gives Microsoft another thing to say, “HEY! LOOK AT ME!”.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/danz32/default.aspx danz32

    Altough on the bright side, it seems bing is doing better on the breaking news stuff after the MJ issues. A quick search of muni crash (the San Fran public transportation) brings up some news articles about it.

    Unfortanuetely for MS, little improvements like that wont bring large marketshare gains. Hopefully the Yahoo deals works out positively for both MS and Yahoo

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/brentgv/default.aspx brentgv

    I’m starting to think that Google’s search dominance isn’t a result of a better product (though there are still some advantages, in some areas, to choosing it over Bing, and vice-a-versa) but of ingrained human behavior. Human behavior that takes years, decades to counter. It’s going to be a long, grueling fight. The good news is there is another big dog in the game, and that will make competing search products better. Go competition.