Recent reports suggest rumors that Yahoo is taking measures to get themselves back in the search game. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, has taken lead on two projects with the aim of reestablishing Yahoo’s in-house search engine technology. Code-named: “Fast Break” and “Curveball”, these projects are poised to offset and disrupt the search engine marketplace.
Why Would Yahoo Take the Risk?
Since 2009, Yahoo organic and paid search have been powered by Bing. This merger-of-sorts created a worthy competitor for Google as it touted a 28.4% search market share and with the combined power of the #2 and #3 was poised to take market share from Google. Steve Balmer, Former Microsoft CEO shared:
“With our new Bing search platform, we’ve created breakthrough innovation and features. This agreement with Yahoo! will provide the scale we need to deliver even more rapid advances in relevancy and usefulness. Microsoft and Yahoo! know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search.”
It is said that competition is the mother of innovation, but flash forward 5 years and Bing and Yahoo’s combine share has only grown by a whopping 0.6%. Meanwhile, Google’s share has grown 2.3% (so much for rapid advances and breakthroughs). If anything this merger has only hurt Yahoo as they have lost 9.3% of search share to Microsoft since they have been powered by Bing. It would seem as though they are a house divided against itself rather than a combined power.
Yahoo Controlling Its Destiny
Marissa has known that Yahoo sharing the market share with Bing has been an issue because it has been cannibalizing their own market share instead of cutting into Google’s. She has been rather vocal about it for a while now. Taking search back in-house provides Yahoo the opportunity to take back the reigns and be in control of their own destiny. However, Yahoo separating itself from Microsoft also has a major downside (at least initially). Currently, 31% of Yahoo’s revenue comes from Microsoft (Yahoo gets 88% of ad revenue generated by Yahoo sites paid by Microsoft). Cutting ties would be incredibly risky if Yahoo doesn’t have monetization strategies in place to buffer them from this kind of loss in revenue. However, under Marissa’s leadership, Yahoo doesn’t seem too adverse to taking big steps having acquired Tumblr, revamped email and implemented their own local search.
No Stranger to Search Algorithms
Even though Yahoo parted ways with search five years ago, they still operated one of the most powerful content personalization algorithms for Yahoo News. Yahoo’s “Today” module is said to be able to generate 45,000 unique versions of itself every five minutes. This technology showed tremendous promise in its first two years of existence with a growth rate of 270% and averaging 1 billion clicks per month dating back to 2011. If you would like to read more about how it works you can read Fast Company’s look under the hood of CORE.
The Implication of Yahoo’s Effort to Revive Search
The most certain implication is that there will be a new player in the search engine marketing game. However, it is not certain what exactly will come from “Fastbreak” or “Curveball” if anything at all because right as of now it’s purely speculation. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on because Yahoo being relevant and actually competing on its own could actually cause the kind of disruption that Yahoo and Microsoft hoped for half a decade ago. The kind of disruption that could possibly rival that of the long enthroned Google – we may in fact have a proverbial Game of Thrones in the online search market as predicted in days past.