Search Industry Reacts to Yahoo!-Microsoft Deal, and They’re Not Holding Back

Here at Search Engine Watch, we wanted to reach out to the search community to get their reaction to the long-awaited search deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! Not surprisingly, marketers, search engine representives, and agencies had a lot to say on the matter. Below you’ll find their initial reactions to this morning’s announcement.

The deal is good for marketers and advertisers

Most agree with Search Engine Watch editor Kevin Newcomb, who earlier wrote today that the MSFT-YHOO deal is good for advertisers.

Ted Shergalis, co-founder and chief strategy officer of [x+1] thinks the deal raises the profile of search marketers, who, on the flip side, must be diligent in learning the terms of the deal as they unfold.

Ultimately i think it makes SEMs more relevant. Now, instead of doing the bulk of the work on each search engine, search marketers will now need to dedicate a bulk of time understanding new Bing/Yahoo! environment. At [x+1], we specialize in display, landing pages, and website personalization, so it will be interesitng to see if different type of user is coming through using the new Bing/Yahoo!

Brian Lewis, vice president at Engine Ready, emphasized the need for this type of improvement for search marketers, while recognizing the difficulty of capturing additional market share, which requires habitual change.

Although many specifics remain to be disclosed, my initial thoughts are that this alliance is just what the search industry needed to continue to provide improvements in the search experience for users as well as an advertising medium that offers profitable returns for savvy marketers. I think one of the biggest challenges for Yahoo/Microsoft will be changing user habits of automatically jumping to Google for search, and slowing the perception that Google and search have become synonymous.

Not an alternative to Google

Combining the number 2 and number 3 search engines may help advertisers in terms of traffic, but will the search landscape truly change? Other search engines know that to truly make waves in search, you need to provide value to searchers, which is not a guarantee in this deal.

Dr. Tomasz Imielinski, executive vice president of technology at hints that their could be room for other players to move ahead while Microsoft and Yahoo! spend time implementing the terms of their deal.

This news is a solid indication that the search market is healthy and growing across the board, and a core foundation of the online medium. But as far as Microsoft and Yahoo are concerned, the primary focus for both for 2009 and into 2010 will need to be on search integration – and not on search innovation. At Ask, our core focus will continue to be innovating for success by putting consumers – and search products – first.

Ryan Hardy and Dan Giulvezan , Co-founders of Unurthme, echo that sentiment.

Everyone in the search industry has the same thing on their to-do list: beat Google. At Unurthme, we believe the more significant opportunity is to add value and innovation to search, thereby delivering users a superior search experience.

SEW Expert and WebCertain CEO Andy Atkins-Krüger thinks its a good time for smaller search engines to partner up with Google or Microsoft.

This deal is the best of both worlds. It creates a stronger competitor for Google, and an opportunity for regional search engines – such as Baidu, Yandex and Seznam – also to enter the fray thanks to the distraction this will create for Google and the negotiating position it opens up with them to partner with Microsoft or Google.

hakia CEO Dr. Riza Berkan thinks that Google has nothing to worry about, at least from this deal.

Our perspective is this deal does not really change anything from the search precision point of view. We think that Yahoo! is actually more precise. From the business point of view, it will create more advertising opportunities, since the share will be at 30%. The advertisers will feel better because the exposure is wider. But as for business as usual, I don’t think there’s a significant change. The search problem is still there and google is still dominating. this won’t make a big diffference.

hakia, of course, employs Yahoo! search technology. Will this deal harm the semantic search engine? Berkan says no.

We don’t rely on it. It helps us, but from what i have read so far, those services will be intact. But even if it wasn’t, it really won’t affect us at all.

It’s natural for competitors to challenge the idea that the deal will work, but they’re not alone. Vern Rowe, client strategy manager at OneUpWeb wonders if innovating existing search is even the answer. Perhaps the efforts seen lately in social media are the true future of search?

The Microsoft/Yahoo! deal is interesting from many aspects. Is it really about partnering to battle an adversary, or are we perhaps seeing a glimpse into a struggling profit center at Microsoft and a new Yahoo perspective that search is a dying technology (time to move on to the next thing-maybe social)? Whatever cord finally struck to get these two together, it might be a long road ahead of them with the Department of Justice before the deal is done. Then, if and when it gets cleared, there will most likely be another several months before there is a significant change from an advertiser’s perspective.

So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?

Still, there are a few optimists out there who know what Microsoft and the technology community are capable of. Underdogs have been known to upset giants before.

Ben Saren, Co-Founder and CEO of CitySquares thinks perserverance is the answer.

Microsoft is taking some hard swings at Google and its just a matter of time until they make contact. Their most dominant days may not be in their past, rather coming very shortly. This kind of competition is entirely necessary and is ultimately going to be a very good thing for search and its cottage industries. Seems to me that the battle drums in the search wars are growing louder and more intense.

Joshua Palau, vice president of the search engine marketing office at Razorfish (an interactive ad agency acquired by Microsoft in 2007) sees an opportunity ripe with potential for Microsoft now.

I think it now sets up MSFT to do what Yahoo failed at – combine search and display in an advertiser friendly way. With 30% search share and a boatload of impressions that can leverage BT, MSFT now becomes a more compelling option.

A wide sentiment is that Yahoo! has given up on search. According to Mark Kelly at Chair 10 Marketing, Yahoo! may have given up a long time ago, and getting rid of the dead weight might just be the ticket for Microsoft.

Yahoo stopped improving its pay-per-click platform, while Microsoft and Google have continued to improve. Advertisers need a stronger competitor to counter-balance Google’s power, and Yahoo and Microsoft on their own weren’t providing that. With this increased search traffic, Microsoft has a much better shot at competing effectively.

Rick Kahn, CEO of eZanga, thinks combining the technologies will inject fresh ideas into the search industry.

Well it’s about time. By pairing up and using each other’s technology, I believe Microsoft and Yahoo are going to have what it takes to slowly close the gap between their companies and Google. The old saying of ‘Two heads are better than one’ will be hard at work, as both Yahoo and Microsoft have some interesting technologies. I think by using Yahoo’s system, but adding the new traffic available at Bing, it’s going to be a winning combination for both companies. By putting them together there can be some interesting synergies created and new functionality that can benefit people searching as well as advertisers. I look forward to tracking the results of this deal over the upcoming months and years.

What is YOUR reaction to the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal? Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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