The folks at Google must be smiling tonight. Microsoft has been lured into putting a bid in for Yahoo. This is a waste of time, money and energy by Microsoft and that should make the Google folks more confident that they are on their way to overtaking Microsoft in the battle for leading technology company on the planet.
Combining two companies that DO NOT GET IT is NOT a recipe for competing with one that does. So let me get specific about what I mean by NOT GETTING IT as it relates to Microsoft and Yahoo. Anyone who has used Google Adwords as an advertiser and Google Adsense as a publisher and done the tests on the competitive products from Microsoft and Yahoo knows what I’m about to describe.
When I set up a campaign at Google Adwords, it is an automated process that is rich with interaction and feedback. I can test a campaign, keywords and ads in a very responsive manner that allows me to set it up, test it and optimize it quickly. Yahoo’s equivalent service was a captive to the belief that permeated Overture/Goto that only human editors could screen ads to make sure that they were relevant. It would take days under that process to do what Google did in minutes As a result, I advertise at Google and do so with Yahoo when I get around to it, if ever. (BTW I told this to the senior team at Yahoo’s search marketing group, but they either didn’t want to hear it or could not change the business process that had been set in place 4-5 years before) Since then, Yahoo has tried to reinvent its ad platform and Microsoft has launched their own version, but both still lag way, way behind Google.
How will Microsoft be able to merge two hugely expensive computer platforms when neither is yet good enough to compete with Google’s ad platform? And the same problem exists when you look at it from the publisher side. Google’s Adsense delivers better ads than does the equivalent Yahoo product despite huge investment by Yahoo. What will Microsoft do, scrap one deficient set of systems for another or try to make both work? Either way, the path leads to doom and gloom for both Microsoft and Yahoo.
There is obviously much more to both Microsoft and Yahoo than search and search advertising, but let’s be clear. Search based advertising is the engine that powers Google and everything it does. Social networking/media, a la MySpace and Facebook, has huge potential and Yahoo should have been the king of that domain given all their acquisitions in that arena over the years, but if Yahoo can’t turn My Yahoo, Flickr, GeoCities, De.licio.us etc. into a Social Media powerhouse how can we expect Microsoft to do so.
I can only hope Yahoo turns down Microsoft and they come to their senses. Yahoo can still do great things with the audience and assets it owns by changing its focus to become the queen of social, instead of the king of search. Microsoft should stop listening to bankers and get back to making products that work well and can out perform the competition.
[tags]Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, social networking, social media, search[/tags]