Yahoo has undoubtedly gained some search market share after its deal with Mozilla and the release of Firefox 34. Reports vary, but all show gains for Yahoo.
But how long will Yahoo’s gains last? Some bloggers assumed that most all Firefox users would eventually manually switch their preferred search engine back to Google. Others expected Yahoo to benefit quite significantly, assuming that typical Internet users may not know much of the difference between Google and Yahoo and will just roll with the change. But the general consensus was that Yahoo would experience a spike in usership and would then decline to an arguable degree as Google fans switched back over time.
Yahoo itself seemed to know that this gradual switchback would happen and made a move to prevent it. Last week, Yahoo released a beta interface layout that looks much more like Google, with fewer ads, a simpler navigation, and more concise search engine results. I first noticed the change when my Firefox upgraded and my default search engine automatically switched to Yahoo. Initially, I admit I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t on Google. But then I noticed the purple branding and realized I was on a new, cleaner version of Yahoo.
SearchEngineLand has reported on this Yahoo layout change but fails to connect the dots to the timely Firefox-Yahoo partnership. Yahoo seems to be adjusting its interface to prevent a kneejerk reaction for Firefox users to switch back to Google because of the obvious difference in the number of advertisements. To be fair, Yahoo is and has always been at its core an Internet marketing company and unabashedly displays revenue-generating ads across its variety of free popular services, including search, email, stocks, weather, sports, news, answers forums, automotive, and so on. Google’s founders, on the other hand, had to be dragged reluctantly into the inevitability of advertising on their new search engine. The plentiful ads on Yahoo and the simpler ads on Google should be understood in that context.
To Yahoo’s credit, users tend to frequent Yahoo’s array of Internet services as much or more than they do Google’s (roughly 192 million unique monthly visitors on Yahoo vs. 189 million on Google as of January 2014). For many online services, folks obviously don’t have a problem seeing ads, and in those realms, Yahoo tends to lead the pack.
But the world of online search is apparently unique. Search users clearly prefer SERPs with as few paid ads as possible (and as relevant ads as possible) that the Google brand has become known for. So Yahoo, hoping to capitalize as much as possible on its new search deal with Firefox, has evidently taken some pages out of the metaphorical Google search handbook.
The new Firefox-Yahoo partnership rollout keeps getting more interesting and industry-changing. Yahoo, the fourth most popular website in the world, now includes the message “Upgrade to the new Firefox” in its top-right corner next to the precious real estate of its email button. Of course, “the new Firefox” is key because only in the new Firefox 34 does the Yahoo integration appear.
This further highlights that the Yahoo-Firefox contract is proving beneficial to both parties. News has already broken that Yahoo’s search market share has skyrocketed from 10% to 29%. And reciprocally, Firefox now gains, in addition to whatever monetary sum Yahoo has agreed to, a plug on the fourth most popular website in the world.
From this point forward, the more folks who use Firefox, the more web traffic and ad revenue Yahoo will acquire. And the stronger Yahoo becomes as an Internet powerhouse thanks in part to Firefox’s referrals, the more users Firefox will potentially gain from the publicity on Yahoo.com. We should expect both Yahoo and Firefox to expand their Internet presence in the coming months and years far beyond their “also-ran” statuses of yesteryear.
As a final note, this cross-promotion is, of course, giving Google a dose of its own medicine. Google’s Chrome browser undoubtedly acquired its 60% browser market share in large part from its longstanding promotion on Google’s homepage (the #1 website in the world). Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Internet Explorer likewise prop one another up. The blossoming partnership between the counterpart-less entities Firefox and Yahoo, to us, makes perfect sense.
Online ads, such as Google search ads or display ads across the Google Display network, have proven successful over the years at increasing website traffic, online sales and other conversion goals. Google now has a new group of tools—Estimated Total Conversions—that help business owners track whether online ads actually aid in driving foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar establishments.
Estimated Total Conversions is made up of three separate tools—Estimated Cross-Device Conversions, Store Visits and Calls—which give marketers more insight into how AdWords drives conversions. Not only does it show you the traditional online conversions you see today, but it also shows estimated conversions that take place via multiple devices, through in-store visits and from phone call conversions.
Estimated Cross-Device Conversions is the first of the three tools launched under the Estimated Total Conversions umbrella. A cross-device conversion starts as a click on a search ad on one device and ends with a conversion on another device.
The Store Visits tool gives marketers insight on which types of search ads—to include local inventory and product listing ads—motivate people to go into the store. The new tool uses an algorithm to estimate how many people went into a store as a result of seeing an online ad within the past 30 days. Storeowners are given anonymous data collected from smartphone users who have turned on location history on their phones. For advertisers to qualify for Store Visits, they need to verify their location with Google and set up location extensions in their AdWords account.
Store Visits data is now only available in the U.S. and will slowly roll out over the next few months. Though this is excellent data to have, the data collected from Google is only a rough estimate on how many people actually acted after seeing ads.
These new conversion tools have already gained interest from Office Depot, as well as Famous Footwear’s CMO, Will Smith: “The insight that we’re getting from our partners at Google are really showing that the influence of online advertising is, in fact, not only getting people to shop on Famous.com, but to shop our stores across the country, as well.” After a year of testing, Famous Footwear found that roughly 15-17% of clicks on their ads led to in-store visits.
Keep an eye out for the third installment of Google’s Estimated Total Conversion tools—Calls—in 2015, as well as other Google products to help assist in your online advertising. Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relation’s web department, Robmark Web—a Savannah, GA website company—specializes in AdWords and other online strategies, including SEO and website development. Start your 2015 off right with a revitalized online marketing strategy with the help of Robmark Web.
Following up on our recent post on the new Firefox-Yahoo alliance, we have already seen industry-shaking effects of the new partnership.
Immediately following the release of Firefox 34, Yahoo’s search market share jumped from 9.6% to 29.4%. The roughly 20% that Yahoo gained came at Google’s expense.
The breakdown among the three top search engines now sits at Google-63%, Yahoo-29%, Bing-6%. This is a major shake-up compared to the approximate Google-80%, Bing-10%, Yahoo-10% status quo we had been accustomed to.
This recent turn of events shows that while Google search has been king for several years, its crown was one that was bought and paid for. Google’s dominance has largely been propped up by its default search status on Firefox and on Apple’s Safari browser, which Google paid hundreds of millions of dollars per year to retain.
That business relationship between Google and web browsers worked well for all parties involved for a limited period of time. Firefox and Apple, with no search engines of their own, once had no conflict of interest in selling its default searches to Google. But as Google expanded its family of products by releasing its own Chrome browser and acquiring the Android smartphone operating system, it started to sour the quid-pro-quo relationships it had built with other tech partners as they turned into competitors who had conflicts of interest in selling out to Google. Today, it is Firefox ending its partnership with Google, and in 2015 when the Apple-Google contract is set to expire, Apple could very well make the switch next. We could then see Google’s search market share fall even further (especially since the loss of Apple’s Safari could decimate Google’s currently overwhelming dominance on mobile devices).
Interestingly, Netflix once found itself in a very similar position to Google and made an entirely opposite business decision. The #1 streaming set-top box, Roku, was originally a Netflix creation called Project Griffin. As Netflix was beginning to venture beyond its DVD-by-mail business and into streaming around 2007, there was not yet a good way for users to stream Netflix shows/movies on their TVs. So Netflix developed a new type of streaming box and planned to release it as a Netflix-branded device. But at the eleventh hour, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings decided to spin off the project under the independent brand Roku in order to avoid the implication that Netflix was directly competing in the hardware market against Sony, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, and all other electronics manufacturers who would later produce their own streaming devices.
Today, Netflix can be found pre-installed on every streaming device and the Netflix logo is usually featured prominently on device packages and advertising. Because Netflix avoided directly competing with those hardware companies, mutually beneficial relationships have flourished across the industry: the popularity of Netflix helps electronics companies sell streaming devices, and the ease of use of streaming devices make it easier for Netflix to acquire new customers.
Had Netflix burned those bridges with electronics manufacturers by releasing a Netflix streaming box of their own, competitors’ devices may have touted other streaming services like Amazon Prime Instant Video, Blockbuster On Demand, Google Play, or the late Redbox Instant. And Netflix may not have become the entertainment giant that it is today.
But Google did make the decision to compete with companies that had once been partners, and today it is reaping the effects. While Google will likely remain the widely preferred search engine, the era of Google’s 80% search dominance may be coming to a close.
In a recent blog post about Apple’s new privacy features, I made the case that it would be wise for Apple to go ahead and switch DuckDuckGo to the default search engine in its Safari browser so as to take a swing at the bottom line of its primary competitor in the smartphone market, Google.
I guess the folks at Mozilla — creators of the Firefox browser — must have read my blog post and thought it was a good idea, because last week, Mozilla announced that it had struck a deal to make Yahoo the browser’s default search engine. Closing out a multi-year deal with Google that accounted for about 90% ($274 million) of Mozilla’s annual revenue, Firefox will now, by default, refer its US searchers to Yahoo.
It is assumed that Yahoo made a comparatively attractive offer to Firefox in order to oust Google. While that is likely the case, Firefox has vested interests, similar to those of Apple that I wrote about previously, in cutting off its business ties with its competitor Google.
Until 2009, Firefox had a substantial share of browser usage and was the go-to free browser for those fed up with Internet Explorer. At its height in 2009, Firefox was preferred by 48% of Web users, compared to Internet Explorer’s 40%. But after its release in late 2008, Google Chrome has steadily grown in market share, first taking away most of Internet Explorer’s share, and then cutting into that of Firefox. Today, Google Chrome is preferred by roughly 60% of users, Internet Explorer by only 9%, and Firefox by 24%. Google Chrome has, in five years, cut in half Firefox’s following in order to acquire over half of the browser market share.
Even though Firefox’s still-respectable browser market share has given it the leverage to charge Google $274 million per year for preferred search engine status, I am sure it has pained Mozilla to have sent 100 billion searches a year to Google, search traffic that has helped Google fund and improve its Chrome browser — a losing long-term game for Mozilla. So when Yahoo came along with a suitable offer to make the switch, I am sure Firefox was eager to strike a deal.
Firefox’s new partnership with Yahoo could have several positive effects on the browser and search engine markets for us users/consumers:
- The billions of searches that Yahoo will now garner from Firefox referrals could give it the ad revenue and opportunity it needs to improve its search algorithm and user interface towards the aim of expanding its currently low 10% search engine market share. Indeed, Yahoo announced that it will release a “clean and modern” search engine for Firefox in December.
- Since Yahoo has become famous for its defiance of the NSA’s demands for user data, Firefox could tout its break from Google and its new partnership with Yahoo in order to foster its brand as the privacy alternative to Google’s and Microsoft’s browsers, perhaps to the effect of rebounding its browser market share by upgrading its own privacy features.
- Google may have to improve its own family of services and strike new deals in order to make up for the loss of Firefox’s billions of referrals.
- Google used to be Firefox’s default search engine worldwide. But after the split, Firefox made country-specific deals with regional search engines, including Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. In many markets, we may see an opportunity for smaller, regional search engines to improve and grow and make deals with Firefox, further diversifying the search engine market.
Time will tell what changes will come of the new Firefox-Yahoo alliance, but it is certain to shake things up in the browser/search engine arena.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to give a talk on “Optimizing Your Web Presence” at the Coastal Museum Association’s monthly luncheon. I opened by highlighting the fact that Web presence encompasses any and all online avenues by which tourists may find “things to do in Savannah” through the Web, which includes the website as well as Google’s new informational features, blogs, social media platforms, and TripAdvisor. I touched on the importance of responsive websites and the fact that over half of all Internet traffic takes place on mobile devices, which is even more important for the tourism industry. I then gave advice on optimizing a historical site’s presence on Google search results, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and TripAdvisor, and I emphasized the benefits of keeping a regularly updated blog.
As a fellow lover of history, I would like to thank the Coastal Museum Association for the opportunity to share some insights into making the most of the Web. And I would like to thank Mandy for lending her expertise in social media marketing during the Q&A.
Please feel free to view my presentation: “Optimizing Your Web Presence”