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No, not that Bing--Microsoft's Bing search engine. And no, I haven't been living under a rock. (Who does that, anyway?) I know Bing has been out for months. That's not what you need to be ready for. You need to be ready for approval of the Yahoo! deal with Bing, because once that happens, everything you've been doing with Yahoo! will change. And if you haven't been doing anything with Yahoo!, you might want to change that, too.
The latest guess is that a regulatory decision will come in the first quarter of 2010, but the government follows no timetable, so it could come sooner or later than that. If approved, and many think it will be, Yahoo! will start dismantling its organic and paid search platforms and substituting Bing, country-by-country, probably starting in the U.S.
What will that mean to the search business? It means that Bing, which holds around a 10% share of U.S. searches today, will suddenly get close to 30%. You might have easily ignored Microsoft before, but it's hard to turn your back on a 30% market share. Those people buy stuff, too.
What will that mean to the search marketer? It depends on what you are doing with Yahoo! and with Bing today:
Most of the companies that I work with tell me that they are using Google AdWords but are not working with any other paid search program. For you, nothing will change on the paid side if the deal goes through, but you might want to re-examine that stance. Perhaps it made sense to forego all the extra work of managing two vendors to try to get that 30% share, but should you make the same decision when it is half the work?
It's unclear whether Microsoft's latest search strategy will make any dramatic inroads on Google (I'm betting that it won't), but 30% of the market is nothing to sneeze at. (I'm not sure why sneezing is an issue, but just stick with me here.) If you've been looking for a low-effort way to improve your paid search results, doing some experimenting with Microsoft adCenter over the next few months might be a good use of time. If the deal is approved, you'll have already learned what works and you'll be reaping the benefits at a time when your competitors are just noticing that the world has changed.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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