When Microsoft and Yahoo announced their search partnership plans just over a year ago, there were a number of unanswered questions about Yahoo's future search-development efforts.
On August 17, Yahoo answered a number of those questions via a blog post on the Yahoo Developer Network site. As Yahoo transitions not just its search results, but also its search back-end infrastructure to Microsoft, a number of Yahoo's search application-programming interfaces (APIs) and Web services are going to be affected, Yahoo officials said.
Microsoft isn't expected to "fully power" the Yahoo Search back-end globally until some time in 2012, the Yahoos said, but later this week the back-end transition for Yahoo Search in the U.S. and Canada will commence. ("Keep an eye out for the 'Powered by Bing' indicator at the bottom of our search results page, which will indicate that you are viewing listings from Microsoft," Yahoo officials blogged.)
One of the results of the back-end search tweaks is that Yahoo will drop SearchMonkey, its search platform that enables site owners to customize search results. On October 1, 2010, Yahoo is going to close the SearchMonkey developer tool, gallery, and app preferences, officials said.
"Yahoo! Search is continuing to shift from a model where developers build lightweight apps to install on Yahoo! to one where publishers enhance their own site markup to produce similar results. Yahoo! Search results pages will continue to show enhanced result templates from websites’ page markup and structured data feeds along with Microsoft’s organic listings," explained Neal Sample, Yahoo Vice President of Social, Open, & Publishing Platforms, in a blog post.
Somewhat surprisingly, Yahoo's BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) program -- another of Yahoo's developer-focused search assets -- is not going away. But BOSS is no longer going to be free for developers.BOSS is Yahoo’s program aimed at getting developers to build custom search engines using Yahoo’s technology underneath.
Sample told developers that "in the not too distant future, BOSS will provide web and image search results from Microsoft along with other search-related services and content from Yahoo!, such as news." Yahoo will make the details regarding how BOSS will evolve public some time in the next 30 days, Sample said. He noted that Yahoo is "exploring a potential fee-based structure as well as ad-revenue models that will enable BOSS developers to monetize their offerings." As a result, Sample admitted, "(w)hen we roll out these changes, BOSS will no longer be a free service to developers."
Yahoo also is beginning testing of paid search account transitions to Microsoft starting this week, Yahoo officials said.
Microsoft and Yahoo officials have told advertisers that their mutual goal is to complete the transition from Yahoo's ad platform to Microsoft's adCenter before holiday 2010. Microsoft is providing organic search results to Yahoo via a number of small pilot programs that kicked off in late July.
In July 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo announced a search partnership via which Microsoft will be providing Bing search results to Yahoo, which Yahoo will use across its search properties for 10 years. In return, Yahoo is becoming the worldwide sales force for online ads for both companies, even though. Self-serve and search advertising will be built on Microsoft’s AdCenter ad platform. Microsoft officials are counting on the search deal to boost Bing’s traffic beyond the teens, in terms of search share.
Speaking of search share, comScore has adjusted its July search-share analysis to eliminate efforts by Microsoft and Yahoo to game the system using automated searches. Using the updated metrics, comScore found Google's U.S. search-1query share to still have declined slightly. Yahoo gained slightly and Bing held steady in comScore's latest results. Google had 65.8 percent share in July. Yahoo had 17.1 percent and Bing held steady at 11 percent.