Can Yahoo Find New Searchers Through An Ad Campaign?

Yahoo wants to change your mind about its search engine. It wants you to know that it is better at helping you find things thanks to features like its SearchAssist auto-complete keywords (which has been around for a year), safe searching filters, and Search Monkey add-ons. So it is launching a campaign with display ads like the one on the left for the Web and radio spots as well trying to paint Google’s search engine as an inferior product—a place where people go to get lost.

Of course, Yahoo’s market share numbers tell a different story. In the U.S., it’s share of query volume as measured by comScore declined about a point in August to 19.6 percent, while Google’s rose a point to 63 percent. And if you look at traffic to each search engine, In the U.S., Yahoo has been flat for a year (up 0.8 percent) with 76.1 million unique visitors in August, while Google is up 16.9 percent to 127.9 million uniques. (These numbers are just for their respective search engines). Worldwide, the gap is even bigger, with Google attracting a whopping 636 million unique visitors in August (up 31.7 percent), versus Yahoo’s 231 million (down 3.4 percent).

So can an advertising campaign change any of that? Search is not like a soft drink. People use the search engine that they think can do the best job in helping them find things. Now, maybe Google has brainwashed all of us to believe that it does indeed produce more relevant results. And in a blind taste-test, more people might choose Yahoo’s results. But if that is the case, I’d rather take an interactive quiz that puts each search engine to the test and make my own decision. That would go much farther to convince me to switch than Yahoo’s current creative.