Earlier this month, advertisers running campaigns in Bing Ads and/or Oath Ad Platforms (previously known as Yahoo Gemini) received an email announcing a partnership update between Microsoft and Yahoo’s owner, Verizon. As with many such deals between media giants, the specifics are a bit confusing due to frequent name changes. The main points of the deal are:

  • In about two months, Microsoft’s Bing Ads will become the exclusive search advertising platform for Verizon Media Group properties
  • Yahoo ads, including ads running on Oath, will be exclusively served by Bing Ads, so advertisers will have one interface (Bing) for all Yahoo and Bing ads
    • Prior to this deal, 51% of Yahoo ads were served through Bing; this brings it to 100%
  • The migration will start gradually on March 15 and could finish as early as March 31

Strategic impact of the Bing/Yahoo/Oath deal

Of course, if you advertise on any Bing, Yahoo, or Oath platforms, this deal should trigger a review of your paid search strategy to investigate the benefits you currently get from these platforms and how the changes will likely affect your campaigns.

However, if you don’t currently advertise on these platforms, this deal could provide a reason for you to evaluate using Bing Ads once the transition is complete. It strengthens the value proposition for both Bing and Yahoo and could result in Google losing some market share.

Reach increases for both Bing and Yahoo ads

Bing’s ad platform is more widely used than Yahoo Gemini was, so Yahoo ads can reach a broader variety of audiences. And Bing Ads can now reach a wider audience in general: Yahoo properties have an estimated 1 billion views per month, and Yahoo search has more than 39 million unique searchers per month who can’t be reached on other engines.

The increased audiences will almost certainly boost traffic; Microsoft estimates a 10-15% increase in ad clicks in the US. However, the growth in clicks could become a problem for campaigns whose budget can’t accommodate the increase. To anticipate that issue, Microsoft has recommended budget increases during the transition, to accommodate parallel campaigns and traffic growth.

Better targeting data including LinkedIn

As both Bing and LinkedIn are Microsoft properties, the deal means that Yahoo advertisers will be able to use Microsoft Graph to target audiences more closely using LinkedIn data. Between this greater targeting ability and Yahoo’s unique audience, companies with small or niche B2B markets can pinpoint their audiences much more effectively.

Strategy during the transition

We agree with Microsoft’s recommendation to keep Oath ads running through March 31 and build parallel campaigns in Bing to run March 15-31. However, while Microsoft has advised Bing Ads budget increases of 10-20% or higher, we recommend reviewing your paid search strategy, audiences, and budget to determine what level of budget increase will best serve your company.

As a rule, we recommend gathering end-to-end data accurately and consistently on all ad platforms at all times. That’s especially important during the Oath-Bing transition. Not only will ad performance be vulnerable to issues caused by these changes, KPIs like cost per click and page rankings may vary from one platform to another.

“Why would I advertise on Yahoo in the first place?”

Reaching Yahoo audiences might not seem like much of a benefit; Yahoo is often considered an also-ran among paid search channels. However, depending on the specifics of your business, Yahoo could be a good choice.

  • Verizon Media Group claims 2 billion ad impressions per day for all Oath properties, plus as noted above, 39 million searchers a month use Yahoo exclusively
  • Ownership by Verizon makes Yahoo very mobile-friendly, offering better placements and inventory for ads, mobile-only formats, access to mobile data and analytics, and 96% of US iPhone users
  • Verizon Media Group owns more than a dozen media properties, including TechCrunch and HuffPost, that provide a significant audience for native advertising

Yahoo Ads: Low-volume, high-value

Worldwide, Yahoo search is used 3.61% to Google’s 73.4%. It simply cannot deliver the volume of impressions and clicks that Google can. However, within this smaller audience, Yahoo ads can deliver good value, as we’ve discovered for our clients.

A client in the health-and-beauty space used Yahoo exclusively for brand advertising, since generic-term advertising would require a larger audience for the company’s products than Yahoo could provide.

Brand advertising has inherently higher returns than generic-term advertising because of its “warmer” audience, so Yahoo would perform well compared to other channels overall. However, when brand advertising data was segmented out from Google and Bing and apples were compared to apples, Yahoo’s performance was still impressive:

Table comparing cost per order, average order value, and return on ad spend of Google, Bing, and Yahoo in paid search

If you’re not certain what impact this deal will have on your company’s paid media advertising, we can help. Our dedicated Bing Ads rep is keeping us posted on this deal as new developments come up, so we’re staying up to date. And if you’re considering expanding into Bing Ads or increasing your investment there, we’d be happy to talk to you about whether it makes sense for your business or not.