So it finally happened: Microhoo, YahooSoft, YaBing…however you call the search deal between Microsoft and Yahoo it is now officially signed with the biggest pen I have ever seen. There has been tons of write-ups on the pros and cons by people with a lot more access to the high-ups than I have or care to have, so I’m going to leave all the strategy and win/lose discussion to them. If you’re interested in that stuff, check out the coverage at TechFlash, TechChrunch, Andrew Goodman’s take, and of course, one of Danny Sullivan’s famous 15,000 word posts.
All I really care about is how this affects advertisers like you and me. What does this mean for our accounts in the near future and beyond? For right now, nothing. Before anything happens the deal needs to get regulatory approval by the Justice Department. And considering how hard Ballmer’s lobbyists fought the Google/Yahoo deal a couple months back, you have to assume Google will be more than happy to return the favor.
Assuming all that goes through and everyone is happy, then there is still a 24-month implementation process before all Yahoo SERPs are powered by Bing. During that time frame it appears that the Yahoo Panama interface will be retired and all advertisers will purchase ads by auction for both Yahoo and Bing through the adCenter interface. Self-serve clients (whcih is almost everyone) will do everything through adCenter, while premium clients will be handled through the Yahoo sales team, but also do everything with Microsoft’s technology.
Make no mistake, this is huge. As Danny pointed out yesterday in a seperate article, Yahoo is bowing out of search. In the meantime, here are some suggestions on how you can better prepare yourself for this transition:
- Get Used to the Bing Interface: It is mighty quirky, so learn your way around it. I’m sure changes will be made in the future, but learning the system now will shorten your learning curve as updates are made in the future. If you haven’t opened an account, do so here.
- Download the adCenter Desktop: It’s still in beta, but I can only assume this tool will get better and better, just like the Adwords Desktop tool did, so learn it, live it, love it.
- Play around in the AdLabs: I’m always surprised that people don’t know about this fun sandbox for potential features and tools, but this is a great way to see what crazy stuff those engineers are thinking about for future improvements. Familiarizing yourself with them today means less time figuring out how to use them tomorrow, if/when they get incorporated into full features within adCenter.
- Read the Help Guides & Forums: This may sound too newbie-like for expert advertisers like yourself, but it really does help understanding the wording differences between the engines. It also helps you understand a little on why things are organized the way they are, and from a logistical perspective, these documents are updated the most frequently. If you are a newbie, then you NEED to read it. Login to your account and click on the help link in the upper right above the search bar.
Change is coming, as it always does in the dynamic world of SEM. All we can do is prepare. Doing the above steps will put you one step closer to readiness than your competitor. Even though this may not happen for several months, start learning today and squash the competition tomorrow.