The Search Alliance Shape Shifts
Taking back their search service representation is a top business priority for Microsoft. Bing has and is continuing to staff up their sales and support teams in order to take back the service representation for Bing products.
Recently a few of us here at iProspect were fortunate to receive a deep dive view into the (until recent) secret world of Bing. When the Yahoo!-Bing Search Alliance formed in 2010, Yahoo teams took over the responsibility for account and product support. In hindsight, this created a situation where agencies and clients were informed of Yahoo product and business updates, but details about Bing Ads features and opportunities weren’t always prioritized as highly. That is, until now.
The Search Alliance is still intact, giving both Yahoo and Bing more flexibility in their business operations. Yahoo reps will begin to only oversee and service their own products and Bing will do the same. So what does this mean? You should start hearing much more about what Bing has been quietly working on over the past five years and what they have in store for the future. Here’s a sneak peek.
As our meetings with Bing progressed, it became very clear that this move, of taking back their search service representation specifically, is a top business priority for Microsoft. Their decisions regarding how agencies and clients would be supported, the expansion plan for global market share, and the evolution of their search offerings are, well, impressive. Bing has taken not only what they have learned from the last decade-plus in the search arena, but also what has and has not worked for their biggest competitors. This learning equates to structural, process and product changes that both agencies and advertisers have been begging for.
- The commitment. Microsoft has 5,500 employees focused on the development, execution, sales and support of Bing. They understand the digitalization of our society and knew they needed the people behind the product.
- The right alignment. Bing will NOT silo their sales and support by vertical. Instead, they will focus on region, ensuring the teams are local to the business as much as possible. You will not run the risk of the same Bing team managing the accounts of your clients’ major competitors. Whenever possible, you will have Bing support local
- At this point, we’ve seen every engine try to verticalize their support and sales teams. Google has kept that structure intact for numerous years now; this approach has their teams working on the business of competing clients/advertisers. Yahoo dabbled with a few different support structures over time, which seemed to function fairly smooth. Bing has landed in a great place and it speaks volumes to how much they have listened and considered what their agency and advertising partners need the most.
- In conjunction to day-to-day Bing support teams, they will also have centralized vertical specialists.
- This shows Bing’s commitment to supporting and partnering with agencies and advertisers. They truly want their relationships to be an agency-led model, which means no going direct to clients without agency involvement and leadership. A problem we have, eh-hem, had continuously for years with other engines. Bing really wants to be your partner, and that’s not just a line.
- To round out support, and this is specific to agencies, you will also have a traditional agency development team. This team will be focused on your top-level business relationship with Bing/Microsoft as a whole.
- The agency support. If you are familiar with how the major search engines handle business with their partner agencies, you know that depending on advertiser spend levels, accounts can receive vastly different levels of service. If you’ve had a client that didn’t meet a spend threshold for dedicated engine rep support, you’ve probably worked with the “other team,” typically supported with a general email address or phone number. But here’s the good news: Bing will be supporting ALL clients within an agency with dedicated teams, regardless of their spend levels! Thank you, Bing. This is good business.
- The expansion. Bing has a multi-faceted approach to expanding their market share, not just in the U.S. but also globally.
- Their global footprint expansion is being addressed by the big tie-ins to Windows 10. Naturally, Windows 10 will have the new Edge browser, as well as IE11, with both defaulting to Bing search. It’s noted that Windows holds 75% of the global operating system space (Microsoft, Wikipedia). Pending the success of the offered free upgrades to 10 and new PC purchases, Microsoft is hoping to see a nice uptick of market share during 2016.
- In the past, Microsoft had easily allowed default browser settings to be changed when users downloaded certain software. Unfortunately, the majority of people never have any clue this is happening when they’re downloading. With the new Edge browser, and also with software downloads, Microsoft will no longer allow automatic default engine changes to occur. This helps protect their product offering, as well as their customers from being unaware of changes happening to their machines. Not to worry, they are not blocking you from changing your default engine- they just want to make sure you are making that choice consciously.
- Bing is in the process of extending their partnerships further with quality publishers and companies to build more query growth and volume. The latest being their partnership with AOL, effective January 2016. A few others to consider: their mapping relationship with Uber, the delivery of Kindle and Echo search results, Siri web search and Spotlight Search on desktop and Mobile results, and adMarketplace as part of the syndication network. There are new deals currently in the works, so don’t take your eye off this piece for too long.
- The transparency. Ah, transparency. It’s nice, isn’t it? It lets you know that who you’re working with is trustworthy and honest. Bing will continue providing full transparency within their syndication network. Their syndication network will not be altered and they will only be adding top tier partners. Quality and transparency are key and at the top of the priority list.
- The leadership. The leadership team driving the development and future for Bing are search aficionados and veterans, some of the true experts in our space. They have been in the search game long enough to have seen the evolution and understand where we need to be going as an industry. Being a search vet myself, it was inspiring to meet and see the brains behind bringing the beauty back to Bing.
All in all, we are thrilled to have the Bing experts back helping us to better understand and utilize their platform, with the end goal of supporting our clients in the best and most educated fashion. I’m excited to see how this slight, yet impactful, change to the search alliance will shape the future of our industry. Anytime we increase the competition, it pushes all of us to become better. I’d love to prophesize on the changes we’ll see, but only the future can tell. Bing, we welcome you back with open arms. Everyone else may want to sleep with one eye open.