For the first time in five years, Yahoo is the top online website in the United States. Yahoo.com has reportedly surpassed Google and Facebook in US internet traffic. The monthly report released by Com Score showed Yahoo as the leader in American online visitors with 196,564,000, while online rival Google pulled in 192,251,000 visitors. While Yahoo has been among the top three websites for American visitors in the last five years, surpassing Google is a bit of a coup, and from Yahoo’s perspective, newsworthy.
The numbers are somewhat controversial. The boost to Yahoo comes on the heels of Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr in May. Although Tumblr is its own entity, and reportedly No. 38 on ComScore’s rankings, there is a footnote on this acquisition saying that ComScore has “assigned some portion of traffic to other syndicated entities.”
So what does this mean to online advertisers? Well, on one hand, very little, and on the other hand, it is a potential clarion call to those that are listening. In terms of how many people are searching in different places, very little is different today than it was this spring. While people may be flocking to Yahoo and it’s properties, they are not flocking there to do online searches. Google still represents the lion share of all US searches. The most current estimate I have seen is that Google alone counts for two thirds of all online searches, and it’s search partners account for several more percentage points. ComScore attributes just 17% of searches to Bing and 12% to Yahoo, and some in the industry see those as inflated numbers. Regardless of what has happened since May, Google alone is still responsible for more online searches in America than all other sources put together. The fact that Yahoo has increased its visitors is also not a game changer. The Yahoo Display Network has had more visitors than any other network, including Google’s, for the last several years. So on the surface, not much has changed.
And yet…Few observers would argue against the notion that Google’s market share is slowly diminishing. Bing continues to set records in terms of market share, and Yahoo has reversed downward trends over the last few months. More significantly, Social Media has become more interwoven in the daily life of most Americans and online activity is centered less and less around search engines. The landscape is slowly changing, and last month’s revelation about the significant role Tumblr had in re-ranking the key players could be important. What it indicates is that the role of search may be diminishing. Rather than being concentrated in a few large players, web traffic seems to be growing in large relative newcomers. For online marketers who want a comprehensive strategy, this once again points to the need to diversify. Google alone may still be a good strategy for many advertisers, but if this summer’s compulsory shift to Google Enhanced Campaigns wasn’t enough, the shifting market shares should serve as motivation to at least re-evaluate if new properties and approaches might be in order. There are four specific types of clients that I would especially encourage to evaluate their online marketing strategies this fall:
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* E-commerce sites that experience a seasonal growth in Oct.- Dec. due to the holidays.
* Sites that are specifically marketing to the 55+ crowd, which is a very strong niche for Yahoo
* Sites that are marketing technological goods and services, such as software or smart phones, as this is a very strong niche for Bing
* Businesses whose target clientele are significantly effected by brand loyalty and the relational aspect of sales, such as dating sites, cars, alcohol, etc. which often play well in social media.