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The Search Alliance Effect

By Derrick DeYarman
PPC Manager

Yahoo and Bing fully integrated Search Alliance today ahead of the expectations of many in the Pay Per Click management field. Yahoo traffic is now being serviced through the Bing interface. Pay Per Click management firms, such as have been preparing advertisers for months, anticipating changes brought by the merger. The months ahead will be a challenge to both pay-per-click managers and their clients. yahoobing-mini

Volatility – An incredible amount of volatility has been seen in Yahoo and, especially, Bing. This is more than the sheer number of impressions and clicks, which were totally predictable. We are seeing big moves in Cost Per Click (CPC) for some clients, which has moved higher or lower than either of the two search engines were a month ago. The traffic quality is also all over the place. No matter how it is measured (conversion rates, goal conversions, bounce rate, or time on site), many clients are seeing different numbers than they had seen in either search engine in September. Expect a lot more volatility in the next couple of weeks as Search Alliance gains steam.

Bleed Over – The volatility is not only limited to Search Alliance. Whether out of desperation, frustration, or a desire for more predictable results, we are seeing, as a rule, a little stiffer competition in Google and other smaller search engines.

A Net Loss – While we expected to see a loss in impressions and clicks from Yahoo, we expected to see a similar gain in Bing to offset the losses in Yahoo. That has not been the case so far. During the transition period prior to full integration, many clients experienced a reduction in Yahoo traffic greater than the increase in Bing. This is in spite of efforts, both in-house and by the Search Alliance team, to add additional long-tailed keywords designed to catch traffic that may slip between the cracks. It remains to be seen whether or not this will continue now that Search Alliance has gone mainstream.

Competition – In some cases, competition has diminished on the Search Alliance. Competitors either have chosen not to take advantage of the Search Alliance network or are having trouble adapting their campaigns to the new format. Certain advertisers have chosen only to advertise in Yahoo’s network or Bing’s network rather than advertise in both, or the Search Alliance spectrum. In other cases, advertisers have not incorporated the keyword changes necessary to capture the same traffic they once captured in Yahoo. Finally, some advertisers have experienced trouble with the transition and do not yet have their ads active in the Search Alliance.


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This has created some opportunities for those advertisers who have properly optimized their accounts ahead of full integration to capture market share.

Data Issues – Exporting data about the performance of different keywords and referring sites from Yahoo to Bing is not possible given the current interaction between the interfaces. Yahoo’s report structure is probably superior to Bing’s, and they are much more flexible in pulling data for different date ranges. Bing has not incorporated all of these improvements into its interface. Yahoo’s search network is comparable in size to Bing’s and its content network is the largest in existence, which means Bing will have no relevant historical data on the majority of traffic that will run through its interface in the coming months. This makes it much more difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from historical data and requires an experienced PPC Manager to make intelligent decisions.

Conversions – Google and Yahoo allow for the creation of multiple types of conversion code. Bing does not. This means that temporarily there is no way to distinguish between different types of conversions in the Search Alliance interface.

The effects of the merger can be confusing; however, there are professional Pay Per Click managers who have prepared for the changes ahead. If you’re concerned about your Pay Per Click campaign and the effect Search Alliance will have on it, visit for more information.

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