Well, they're not breaking up just yet. Yahoo and Microsoft just announced that they have agreed to amend their search partnership following the delay of talks about how to proceed, which led to a lot of speculation that they may part ways.
The companies have vowed to continue working together, and have "reaffirmed commitments made by both companies in the original 2009 agreement, while implementing changes to keep the partnership strong and productive". Both companies, the announcement says, are "committed to maximizing the alliance."
“Our global partnership with Yahoo has benefited our shared customers over the past five years and I look forward to building on what we’ve already accomplished together,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Our partnership with Yahoo is one example of the diverse partnerships we’ll continue to cultivate in order to have the greatest impact for our customers.”
“Over the past few months, Satya and I have worked closely together to establish a revised search agreement that allows us to enhance our user experience and innovate more in our search business,” said Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. “This renewed agreement opens up significant opportunities in our partnership that I’m very excited to explore.”
So the rumors about Yahoo working to improve its own search offering are true, apparently. This should make it easier for Yahoo to succeed when the companies eventually do part ways.
The amendments to the deal come in two main areas. Yahoo will have increased flexibility to enhance its own search experience on any platform. The partnership is non-exclusive for both desktop and mobile. Yahoo will continue to serve Bing ads and search results for most of tis desktop search traffic, it says. Presumably, this leaves Yahoo free to do what it wants on mobile, where it has been focusing most of its efforts.
The company has been rumored to be in talks to buy Foursquare, which could bring some interesting things to the table on mobile, though other reports have dismissed the rumor as BS.
The second area that has changed in the Microsoft deal is that there is an increased "agility and sales focus." Microsoft will be the exclusive salesforce for ads delivered by its own Bing Ads platform, and Yahoo will continue to be the exclusive salesforce for its Yahoo Gemini ads platform.
"Integrating the sales teams with those responsible for engineering will allow both companies to service advertisers more effectively," the companies said in the announcement. "Microsoft and Yahoo plan to begin to transition managed advertiser sales responsibilities this summer."
"The partnership, formed in 2009 by both CEOs’ predecessors, established a transformative relationship between the two companies -- one where Microsoft exclusively provided paid and algorithmic search services on PC to Yahoo," it says. "The alliance also designated a revenue sharing agreement where Microsoft pays Yahoo a percentage of Bing Ads revenue delivered from Yahoo searches. This existing underlying economic structure remains unchanged with today's updates."
In related news, the latest comScore search market report is out, showing that Bing's share in the U.S. has grown to 20.1% with Yahoo at 12.7%.
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