Why the Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal Sucks

I blogged about why I thought that the Microsoft and Yahootalks were not going to yield anything useful last year and was satisfied that they stopped wasting time trying to buy each other out of financial trouble. Now it has been widely reported that Microsoft has gained access to Yahoo in a search partnership deal. This is somewhat better but again, the executives have not listened to the public.

1. This Yahoo-Microsoft deal still sucks for several reasons. One being that Microsoft Ad Center is the ad display engine being used in the partnership and not Yahoo’s Panama. Neither have the depth or ease of use of AdWords. Anyone who has ever placed any pay per click search ads in their life would choose Panama over Microsoft Ad Center as the system to use. Maybe MAC makes more money but there are too many limits on bids, keyword availability and restrictions on running your ads to make it widely accepted.

2. The recent Netflix prize showed how much collaboration benefits organizations rather than competition. The revenue share partnership deal usually shares no information about technology or business strategy at all between companies. Its a you win, I loose, I’ll just pay you for handling this for me-approach to solving a problem, that doesn’t work in the long term.

The Netflix prize was recently awarded when a group of individual competitors and small teams banded together to use all their ideas in combination to finally get above the 10% improvement mark in matching/suggestion technology and submit their top result. In the last day before the time was up, another group of researchers banded together and topped the previous best submission also by combining all their ideas together at once.

Then in the last 12 hours the first team did come back with another submission just slightly better,  to win,  but the overall idea/lesson is still the same. If you really want to improve on consumer products and experience with really complex technical problems like search and suggestions, you have to collaborate rather than compete.

Yahoo and Microsoft would do a whole lot better against Google if they got the Bing folks together with the Yahoo search folks and started collaborating on this daily via videocam rather than doing an affiliate marketing type deal. This deal is evidence that Microsoft is being run by the lowest common denominator these days (and loosing a lot of money that way) and Yahoo’s CEO won’t be around long. She has made a decision that helps her contain and cut costs of running her company in the short term and that decision has sacrificed the long term marketability of her product.

In fact Yahoo was a search company primarily. People only used email, Yahoo news and other functions like Yahoo Answers because of the search engine they knew. If you take that away you don’t have an identity as a company. And they will lose a lot more search market share and preference by outsourcing to Bing even if they get paid a little bit more profitably in the next 2 quarters. This is pretty much the death of Yahoo. It is really sad.