Written by: Mel Jones, Nick Lynch and Cat Collis
The age of Google search may be over and the time of the multi-platform solution has arrived.
In November 2014, Mozilla Firefox ended its partnership with search engine giant Google and signed an exclusive five-year deal with Yahoo for default search engine rights. When the partnership began in December 2014, Yahoo became the default search engine for the 12% of the internet population that uses Firefox. Just one month prior, Google had been dominating the market for US desktop search engine usage with 78% of total traffic. We wondered – would Yahoo’s new fellowship with Mozilla Firefox help it win some of Google’s share?
Yahoo and Bing have been trying to chip away at Google’s steadfast market share for some time and securing this deal with Mozilla is proving to have some effect. Harmelin Media’s paid search department has been tracking browser and search engine market share via statcounter.com in anticipation of the Mozilla/Yahoo move. Although data is still preliminary, we have noticed some shifts. Since October 2014, Google’s commanding 78% market share has dropped to its lowest percentage since 2008 at just around 75% in December 2014 – just after the Yahoo-Mozilla partnership was consummated. Yahoo, during the same period, managed to increase share of search engine traffic 25% (from around an 8% share to a solid 10%). Since the initial market share trade-off in December, Yahoo has proven that it can hold onto the ground it has gained. There has been little share change through March 2015 with Google still controlling around 75% and Yahoo with 10%. To continue growing, Yahoo is reportedly working side by side with Bing’s search team to create a superior search experience with the help of search experiments and user feedback, as well as developing new software.
Google is seeing action on the mobile search battlefield as well with the release of Mozilla’s new version 35 mobile search software, which has new apps and geolocation functions that are getting some attention. Google was dominating the mobile search engine market share as of December 1st 2014 with about 86%, but this could be attributed to its control of the top mobile browsers such as Chrome, Safari and, at the time, Firefox. Now with Yahoo becoming the Firefox default search engine in early December 2014 (and talk of Apple abandoning Google as its default mobile search engine as well), it is not crazy to think that we may see a slow shift of power from the mighty Google.
As of now, our team has not made any changes to our online marketing strategies, except for the close monitoring of these shifts in search share. We do think there will be a more immediate shift in mobile search share. The combined efforts of Yahoo, Mozilla and Bing are making it difficult for Google to continue to monopolize the mobile search engine market. Mozilla is developing an entire line of smartphones with its adaptive Firefox OS . There have also been rumblings in the industry that Apple, a longtime Google partner, is making efforts to develop an in-house Apple Search offering. As partnerships with Google end, and other mobile browsers match Google’s innovation and mobile capabilities, we see potential for a more even mobile search playing field in the future. We will continue to monitor these changes and be ready to adapt accordingly.
The board is set. The pieces are moving. We come to it at last — the great battle of search.