Discover what's up in the business of marketing each Friday.
Dear Bing & Yahoo: Pushing Deck Chairs Around Isn’t A Good Plan
I swear, it’s like watching the Titanic having run into that iceberg, as Bing and Yahoo try to figure out what to do with their sinking ships of search. Except that the Titanic was big, and Bing and Yahoo are like small — and they haven’t run into an iceberg. They’re being run over by the search supercarrier SS Google.
“Did we just bump something,” yells Capt. Larry Page to his Googler crew. “No, full steam ahead!” yells back first mate Eric Schmidt. “There were some senators in the water, but I think I’ve handled them.” As for the wreckage of the SS Bing and SS Yahoo that Google also plowed through , that’s hardly troubling him. Google’s watertight.
The Depressing World Of DC
OK, enough with the ship metaphors. Later, fairly soon, I’ll do my own recap of how Google’s big day in Washington DC went, in terms of anti-trust challenges. Google does face some challenges there, primarily because the complexities of search engines are being lost on lawmakers who seem more interested in political talking points and asking for handouts than actually dealing with serious industry-wide issues that should be addressed.
Suffice to say, after witnessing the circus this week in Washington DC, seeing first hand how lawmakers have no idea what they’re supposed to be potentially regulating in an area I know extremely well, I’ve come to realize how deeply they probably screw up all those other areas that I don’t know well but still had some faith that they would have researched carefully. Sigh.
But what about Bing? What about Yahoo? What’s all this about deck chairs?
Bing’s Lost Billions
Earlier this week, CNN Money had an article about how Bing has lost over $5 billion since it was launched in 2009. Our write-up of that piece is here: Bing Still Seeking Magic Formula To Challenge Google & Turn A Profit.
That story follows off an earlier New York Times article about Bing still trying to win from the end of July, as we also covered and analyzed back then: Bing’s Battle With Google: How Long Is “Long Term”?.
CNN Money covers what I’ve kept saying and saying over the past years. Bing is growing, slightly, at the expense of its FTC-approved-so-that-we-have-a-competitive-search-marketplace partner Yahoo. But Bing hasn’t really touched Google’s marketshare. The growth it has had against Yahoo it’s been very expensive. Sponsoring all those shows on Being the “TV To Bing About” sponsor of CW doesn’t come cheap.
That’s OK. Bing’s got a plan. From the CNN Money article, we learn that unlike Google, it can experiment more easily, Bing says. It’ll get away from just showing blue links. It’ll help people do “more” than just search. It’ll apparently become an even better decision engine than it already is.
Are you friggin’ kidding me? Seriously. This is the game plan? That you’re going to keep saying all the same things that you said back when Bing launched? Which, by the way, isn’t even that different than what you were saying when you were Live Search? Or when you were MSN Search?
What’s The Plan, Bing?
All I kept thinking when I read this was Phil from Modern Family trying to figure out how to keep that car rolling away:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uk-ePdp73I
What’s the plan, Bing? Because “at least I’m going to do something” isn’t enough.
In reality, the plan seems to be hang in there long enough until Yahoo slips away. It’s probably not a bad plan. Another plan might be to stop spending all that money on advertising. That never worked long term in the past. Marketshare might not drop, but the red ink might.
And, reading from Ad Age today, it sounds like the whole Decision Engine idea might be going away period. Sounds good. How about something fun, play off that old joke everyone thought Bing stood for, “Because it’s not Google.” Give us some ads like “Bing: We’re Not Google.”
Yahoo: Just Sad
If Bing sounds incredibly lame, Yahoo just sounds pathetic. Last week, it rolled out yet another change to its search interface. We even wrote it up: Yahoo Rolls Out New SERP, Will People Notice?
No, no one really seemed to notice. So today, Yahoo’s back at it. It really, really is ready to fight in search. Why, it’s even got a whole fresh new post out saying this:
As the lead of a skunkworks-esque group that focuses on radical new experiences beyond traditional search, I can tell you that Yahoo! is in the most exciting phase of its entire 16-year history. My view is that it’s fight, not flight, for the company and there has never been a time where so many people have wanted to fight like today. Yahoo! Search has some product experiences that are so radically different, you’ll sit back in your seat thinking, “what the &$%# just happened?”
OK, as someone who has covered you for most of your 16 year history, no you’re not. No you’re not! This isn’t the most exciting phase in search for you. This is you being 95 years old and not sure where your glasses are, walking around thinking you’re a spry 21 year old headed out for a night on the town.
For one thing, you’re brain dead. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that you fired your CEO, who put you on this path that you can give up your search technology and still win by having any “search chip” inside a pretty case.
How’s that been working out. Yeah. So while your company is in disarray, and while we’re waiting to see who’s going to run it next, if your board is going to survive, if Microsoft is just going to get to do what we all think might happen and buy you , or whether you’ll merge with AOL so we only have one single depressing story to follow, you want us to believe there’s some search revolution that’s going to appear from your decimated search team that’s going to save Yahoo’s ass?
Hey, if you really do grow your search share steadily over the next 18 months as you seem to think will happen, thanks to yet another batch of buzzword-ridden user interface enhancements, I’ll come yodel down at the Yahooplex for everyone there personally.
I like Bing. I like Yahoo. It pains me to write this stuff. But it’s true.
I want to see Bing succeed, because they’ve got good technology and good people there who can give us a nice counterbalance to Google. I’d like to see Yahoo succeed, but if you don’t have the search tech, that’s not going to happen.
Please, spare us any more pie-in-the-sky predictions of how you’ll out-innovate, out-experiment, out-user interface your way past Google. There is literally nothing new that you’re saying. Now, it’s just time to start doing and showing.