Bing on web browser on laptop

Sayonara Gemini Search. Long Live the Bing.

Verizon Media (formerly known as Oath) is putting the band back together and we’re predicting this sequel to outperform the original.

With Verizon Media expanding its partnership with Microsoft, a ripple effect will form within the advertising industry, as Bing and the Microsoft Audience Network inevitably grow in strength. Bing and Verizon Media will have access to one another’s native network, however if you buy via Bing then you have the potential to gain additional insights via data overlap using Microsoft graph.

The biggest news for us in Paid Search: we bid farewell to Yahoo Search as it will be powered by Bing going forward.

Earth shattering stuff, we know.

Back in 2015 Verizon bought AOL, which it then merged with Yahoo in 2017 to form Oath. Over this same time period, Microsoft’s stock price tripled. If anyone was to dent an industry dominated by Google, surely the combination of these two juggernauts stand the best chance.

The History

Google and Yahoo confirmed a deal back in June 2008. The renewable 10-year deal was to go beyond paid search results on Yahoo and include contextual advertising on the Yahoo network and, potentially, on their partner sites. This faced continuous opposition until later that same year Google decided to discontinue its agreement with Yahoo, citing “a protracted legal battle, but also damage to relationships with valued partners.”

Cue the introduction of Microsoft. With this legacy deal, Yahoo was obligated to show Bing ads on desktop, however there was a lot more flexibility with regards to mobile. Yahoo took full advantage of this and launched the Yahoo Gemini platform in 2014 search and native ads. Inevitably, in 2015, a new deal was negotiated in Yahoo’s favor and it was agreed that only 51% of desktop search traffic had to carry Bing ads.

This most recent change takes us back to the future as Bing secures advertising on Yahoo, only this time with an even stronger offering and the exciting Microsoft Audience Network. Will this sequel turn out to be a rare great or fall into the bargain bucket along with Bambi 2 and Jaws: The Revenge?

So what does this all mean for Paid Search?

In the US, Gemini Search will be depreciated and Yahoo’s search engine will be powered by Bing. The changeover will begin March 15th, and conclude at the end of March. After this switch, Bing Ads will assume responsibility for all paid search ads on Yahoo and Yahoo’s partners/properties. 

Gemini Search was never a huge driver of traffic comparatively, however Bing predicts click volume for current advertisers will increase in the US by an estimated 10% to 15% once this transition is complete. Other countries are unlikely to see a meaningful impact.  Since a significant portion of traffic from Gemini Search was mobile, we can assume mobile traffic makes up a large majority of that percentage.

What can I do with this information?

As things currently stand, Gemini Search traffic looks to be powered by Bing, thus an estimated increase of 10% to 15% in Bing Ads traffic may be seen. Here are the steps you can take to be prepared for these changes which will come into effect mind March:

  1. We first suggest that you look at your current Gemini Search account to help estimate the forthcoming impact. If not, no need to worry, simply follow the remaining steps.
  2. Ensure Bing parity! So often Paid Search experts suffer from Google Ads tunnel vision. Be sure to fully audit your Bing Ads accounts and confirm that all relevant opportunity is being captured.
  3. Analyze current mobile performance and determine an action plan to hopefully improve it. If we generalize that the majority of this increased traffic will come via mobile, then we must ensure that we are doing everything to optimize it.
  4. Check that all IO’s, budgets, and pacing plans can accommodate an increase in traffic (remember it may largely come via mobile).
  5. Reach out to your Yahoo and Bing reps for more details and any nuances which may occur with your accounts in particular.

This seems to be a leap forward for both parties as Verizon Media increases the size of its tech stack and Microsoft increases their significance within the industry. Regarding Microsoft’s Bing Ads in particular, the platform is habitually treated as a secondary tactic, but this new partnership could change the general consensus. However, only time will tell if Bing and Gemini are simply trading market share vs. cutting into Googles governance.

Regardless, Gemini’s platform and targeting capabilities have never been on par with Bing Ads or Google Ads, so I am certain Paid Search marketers will be ecstatic with platform consolidation at the very least. In the meantime, we can expect many more details to come out in the following weeks that will give a clearer sense of how this modified partnership will play out.