Search Engines Feeling the Pinch
Although much has been said about digital marketing and more so, search engine marketing, being recession proof and the one area of the marketing plan which is set to actually benefit from recession, recent news stories indicate that this may not be the case. It appears that Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, the three major players in the world of PPC, are battening down the hatches for a tough 2009 in search.
Yahoo! announced this week that it is shutting down its content network, a move which was met with nothing more than a shrug by the search engine marketing community, but one which could signal that Yahoo! is looking to cut back on its less profitable areas.
Rumours are rife that Microsoft are set to announce job cuts in the next week, with some expected on the search side of the business. This is unsurprising considering the disappointing growth of Live search and the perceived lack of focus in this area, perhaps they are set to rely on the Yahoo! workforce and are giving away something about the merger rumours!?!
Surprisingly it is Google that appear to be making the most cuts, with the announcement it is cutting 100 recruitment positions (1% of the company) and shutting down 3 engineering offices. The staff on the engineering side will be given the option to relocate but you would think a large proportion of them will also end up redundant.
Google have also announced the removal of a number of their product offerings and the discontinuation of development of a number of others as they look to focus on the products that earn them direct revenues in these difficult times. The affected Google products are:
• Google Video
• Google Catalogue Search
• Google Notebook
• Google Mashup Editor
So what does this say about the confidence of the three biggest suppliers of paid search advertising? It could be seen as good business sense on their part, sorting the wheat from the chaff so to speak and focussing on profitability in tough economic times. Moves like this however can only result in Google extending their lead in the race for search engine supremacy. The optimist in me would like to see Yahoo! or Microsoft being aggressive in a push steal market share in the downturn, but maybe they are both resigned to the fact the only way forward is to join forces.
2009 is set to be a tough year for us all; some will fall, while others will prosper at their expense. At the moment it appears even the search engines are jockeying to be in the best position as it appears things are going to get worse before they get any better.