Multiple reports are out from AdAge, The Wall Street Journal, and Kara Swisher at All Things Digital that Microsoft and Yahoo! are set to announce a search deal as early as tomorrow, Wednesday. From AdAge:
Through the pact, Bing will become the default search engine on Yahoo, creating a search player with close to 30% market share of search queries, compared with Google’s 65%, according to ComScore data. One of the most interesting wrinkles involves who takes ownership of search sales: Yahoo is likely to take on exclusive representation of Bing inventory to eliminate channel conflict and complexity for advertisers, but not before both sides unwind the thousands of advertiser relationships and proprietary systems through which many large advertisers buy search ads. Microsoft’s AdCenter is expected to be the sales-technology platform.
We’ve been hearing all kinds of rumors about details of the deal over the past week, but if this latest representation holds true, it seems to make the most sense of anything we’ve heard so far. Microsoft will not make a large (read: billion dollar) upfront payment to Yahoo!, Bing will appear as the default search engine on Yahoo!, and Microsoft adCenter will supplant Yahoo! Panama as the sales technology platform but the complexities of who will sell what, and where, will be largely left unchanged, at least for the moment.
Of course until we hear official word (and that could be coming at any time), details of the deal are still a little murky, such as when Bing will begin surfacing on Yahoo!, what the reaction of the US Justice Department will be if any (and what Google will do to counter), and what the details of the dollar transactions will be, but it sounds like, after nearly three years of rumors loud and soft, that Microsoft will finally acquire the US search share boost it’s been looking for.
More soon, of course.