Since 2002, AOL has partnered with Google as a “Search Partner,” allowing Google Adwords ads to be placed on all AOL properties. However, as of January 2016, this is no more. It was announced back in June of 2015 that AOL was going to be joining forces with Bing Ads by allowing Bing’s paid advertisements to be placed on AOL sites. Since then, this has been swept under the rug and forgotten about until just recently. That being said, just last June AOL signed a massive 10 year deal with Microsoft to use Bing’s ads and listings which just started to go into effect January 1st of this year. However, unlike the amended deal with Yahoo and Bing last year, “…as of Jan. 1, Bing powers AOL’s web, mobile, and tablet search, providing paid search ads and algorithmic organic search results to AOL’s properties worldwide”.¹ The major difference is that Bing Ads will also show on AOL mobile results as while it will not with Yahoo mobile results pages.
The addition of AOL to Bing Ads doesn’t seem like it’s going to really hurt Google, as the majority of you may have already assumed. I would even go as far as to say that Google likely isn’t going to even notice the loss in the least bit. However, for as much as it isn’t going to hurt Google Adwords, it is going to actually help Bing Ads, who’s overall search market share has risen to 20.1% as of March of 2015 according to comScore.²
Google Adwords revenue likely won’t noticeably suffer from the loss of revenue from this 1.1% of the search market share, which is what comScore reported AOL’s overall search market share to be. However, I’m sure Bing who only holds a 20.1% stake in total search market share, is going to notice the positive increase from that same 1.1% gain. Think about it for a minute. In almost every circumstance you can think of, you will find that perceived value is almost always going to be greater to the person, or company, that has/holds less than the other(s). I think you will find that to be the case here as well.
This is especially true due to the fact that Yahoo and Bing have amended their previous contract as of last year as well. Under the new agreement, Yahoo is only required to show Bing Ads 51% of the time on Yahoo search results. This gives them more opportunity to possibly make another deal with a different search engine or even possibly utilize their own Gemini system in the near future. Remember, Google was after them before the originally signed on with Microsoft. So, with a reduction in Yahoo’s overall search results, even the addition of AOL’s lowly 1.1% of search market share is a step in the right direction. All this said, Bing isn’t the only one making out on this deal though. AOL is getting something from it as well as they will be taking over Microsoft’s Display Ad Business. Microsoft properties will still be utilizing Display Ads with the exception of the fact that they will now be sold by AOL in major global markets including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Italy and Germany as well.
So, “What can we expect from all this?” you may ask. According to Bing, AOL’s “high-quality” audience is very similar to what both Bing and Yahoo currently offer today. Bing elaborates even further by saying that “…both audiences have higher household incomes, the majority has attended college, they skew slightly female and the majority of users are ages 35+. Both audiences also spend more online than the average Internet searcher.”³ Considering these key takeaways, Bing goes further into describing their expectancies of this relationship by saying “…we anticipate a 5-8% increase in click volume in the U.S. In order to optimize this expected increase in click volume, we recommend that advertisers consider increasing their budgets to take advantage of the incremental quality volume available.”³
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that we are going to have the ability to opt out of using AOL as we did with Adwords Search Partners, but we can limit the exposure if you see that your return is going in the opposite direction. We do have the option to show our ads on “All Search Networks,” which will include syndicated search partners, “Search Only” or “Syndicated Search Partners Only.” You can find these under the Ad Group Advanced Settings for Ad Distribution. It will look like this:
You can also find this in Bing Editor under the “Network Distribution” in the edit pane of the Ad Groups tab.
So hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen. AOL has now moved to Bing Ads and there is no escape. Don’t forget to adjust your settings, your budget and most importantly your bids this year, and you may make it through unscathed. We don’t expect this to be the be-all-end-all of Paid Advertising, but as I’ve indicated above, I do expect that it will shift the balance just a little as Bing continues to try to increase their market share and gradually try to get closer to the big “G” (Google).
With thirteen years of Internet Marketing experience, Ed Cehi joined That Company as a PPC Account Manager in 2008 after previously working at another high-profile Florida Web Design and Marketing Agency for six years, located in Ocala, Florida. He started his career in Internet Marketing as a Web Designer after graduating from The International Academy of Design and Technology in Orlando Florida with a degree in Web Design. He soon moved on to Search Engine Optimization and then graduated into Paid Advertising, following that. Ed now holds the Senior SEM Manager position at That Company. You can find him online on Twitter @edsaxman
– Ed Cehi, PPC Manager