Since word of a Yahoo and Mozilla Firefox partnership was announced as part of the Firefox 34 update in late November, we have been anxiously awaiting news and results of the change. As previously noted in a look at search engine competition, December marked the official launch of Yahoo as the default search engine for Firefox 34 in a 5 year deal kicking long time user favourite Google out of the position it so comfortably occupied for 10 years.
Despite remaining king of search engines, during the first month of this partnership, Google saw its lowest point since 2008 slipping from 79.3% to 75.2% of US online search referrals as tracked by StatCounter. Needless to say, Yahoo was successfully able to grab some of that loss resulting in a total share of 10.4% from its earlier recorded 8.6% just one month prior. This significant jump and the drop in Google’s points are a direct result of the new partnership, Chief Executive at StatCounter Aodhan Cullen went on to say, “The move by Mozilla has had a definite impact on US search… The question now is whether Firefox users switch back to Google”.
The results that followed the month of December may not surprise many as perhaps an inevitable and anticipated occurrence. Despite assuming the position of default search engine, users are still given the option to switch their browser to desired alternatives such as Bing or Google and it would appear they have done just that. Follow up research performed by RKG argues that many Firefox 34 users have made the ‘switchback’ making Google once again their default search engine. On December 10th Yahoo’s share of Firefox’s paid search clicks peaked at 43% as a result of the recent browser upgrade. Since then however, Yahoo has seen a gradual decline in share lost to Google and other competition which now sits at 36%.
It has also been noted that Google may actually see more revenue from AdWords now than it had seen during its previous partnership as the default search engine for the browser due to no revenue share as a result of Yahoo’s takeover.
It would seem despite some share improvements, the bold move and partnership have ultimately been ineffective in breaking the search engine giant’s grasp as Google continues to reign and reclaim its lost users with little regard for competitors. However, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel for Yahoo as the Google-Apple Safari deal gets closer to its expiry date which, if won, could result in a reported five times as much traffic as the Firefox deal. With mobile and tablet paid search clicks on Apple devices and Safari desktop searches accounting for nearly half of total paid search traffic estimated for 2015, a piece of that pie would be a huge success for the search engine. The New Year has just begun and the possibilities endless, there may be a much larger prize to be won if Yahoo plays its cards right.