10-year partnership ends as Google loses AOL search to Bing

Microsoft has agreed a deal with AOL that has Bing replacing Google as search provider to America OnLine (AOL), starting January 2016. As part of the 10-year deal and confirmation of a renewed focus on search, Microsoft is exiting display ad sales in nine countries.

AOL search results

From January 1 next year, AOL search results will no longer be “enhanced by” Google. Bing will provide search listings and search ads, while AOL takes over sales of Microsoft’s display ad inventory.

AOL, recently acquired by US telco Verizon for USD $4.4 billion, will take over display ad sales in Microsoft’s nine largest global markets. This includes sales of mobile and video ads on MSN, Outlook, Xbox and Skype and other Microsoft properties in the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

AppNexus (an independent programmatic online ad company in which Microsoft is a principal investor) will programmatically sell its display inventory in an additional 10 European countries.

Microsoft also announced last week that it would sell some digital mapping assets to app-based transport startup Uber, lessening that company’s reliance on Google Maps. As part of the deal, about 100 data collection engineers will transfer to Uber.

Why should you care?

This is not the big deal it might once have been, when AOL was a bigger player in search, but it does emphasise Microsoft’s commitment to Bing. It should be added, however, that while AOL and AppNexus take over sales of Microsoft display inventory, Microsoft is not abandoning display advertising (but simply outsourcing sales).

Google has been providing search results and paid search advertising to AOL since 2002 — back then, the partnership was a pretty big deal. At the time AOL, then owned by Time Warner, still had 34 million subscribers, while Google was a relative newcomer.

Today, AOL has about 1.2% market share in the US (according to recent Comscore figures) and only 0.59% globally. Google, meanwhile, has 65% share of the US domestic market, and 71% global share.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.