Yahoo! Cuts Agency Commissions

In a memo to its partner agencies yahoo has announced changes to its commission structure which will see it follow Google’s lead and reduce the amount of Agency commission from January 1st 2009.  It is not going as far as Google in removing commissions completely but it will see a cut of 1% for the majority of agencies but a potential hit of 6% for unlucky agencies which fall into a specific band with a potential loss of all commission for the really small spenders.

At present agencies spending between £20,000 and £79,999 receive a rebate of 5% from Yahoo and anyone spending over £80,000 receives the maximum 10% commission on search spend.  The January changes will see agencies spending between £50,000 and £99,999 receive 4% rebate and anyone spending over £100,000 9%.  This means the removal of commissions for agencies spending less than £50,000 a month and a hit of 6% for those who fall between the £80,000-£100,000 monthly spend bracket.

The announcements come in the same week that Yahoo! has announced it will be closing six European offices in the coming 12 months in a bid to cut costs.  Potentially suggesting that the two decisions are linked in a company wide profitability drive.  After all, agencies will be so concerned with losing their Google BPF that they hardly notice the Yahoo change right?

Its a disappointing step from Yahoo who could have used the Google BPF removal as a tool to grow their market share.  Either by simply pushing agencies on the message that they are still offering 10% or even making the bold move of increasing the commissions to further incentivise search agencies to use their service.  After all, they still offer 15% on display advertising placements so why not search as well?

Yahoo has been failing to eat into Google’s market share for a long time and it has been becoming more and more apparent of late that a merger with Microsoft might be the only way we will see true competition in the paid search market.  But this was a prime opportunity to steal a few more ad dollars from Google and one, in the current economic environment, they probably couldn’t afford to miss.

If Yahoo had been brave and increased their commissions, I for one would have been looking for way to spend more pay per click budget with them but now they have reduced them, I certainly wont be increasing PPC spend with them in the New Year.  I think this can safely go down as an opportunity missed for Yahoo, and could even been seen as a signal of intent not to put up a significant fight against Google in the field of Pay Per Click.