Last summer, nearly a week after Verizon announced it had completed the $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL, Microsoft said it had struck a deal with the online content network to power its AOL-branded search services, replacing Google. Now it's official.
In a Jan. 4 announcement in the Bing Ads Blog, Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president of Microsoft Search Advertising, said: "As of Jan. 1, Bing powers AOL's Web, mobile, and tablet search, providing paid search ads and algorithmic organic search results to AOL's properties worldwide." The move not only expands Bing's reach, but also that of online marketers that advertise on the platform.
"All major Bing Ads ad products are enabled for AOL search traffic worldwide to provide marketers with additional high-quality volume and ways to reach their desired audience," added van der Kooi. Bing currently handles a fifth of all Web searches, he noted. In terms of U.S.-based searches, Bing accounts for nearly a third of all searches made on a PC and generates search results for third-place Yahoo and fifth-place AOL, he added. (Microsoft inked a similar deal with Yahoo in 2009.)
"For marketers looking to drive connections for their brands with the right people at the right time, AOL's high-quality audience is a valuable addition to the Bing network," stated van der Kooi. "AOL has many established sites with unique, loyal users who generate several billion search queries each year and spend more online than the average Internet searcher."
AOL is home to several high-traffic Web properties, including The Huffington Post. "Partnering with Bing allows us to provide great search results and capabilities, across all screens, to our global audiences, as well as providing our brands valuable business insights and intelligence," Tim Lemmon, head of AOL Search, said in a statement.
Prior to the switch, Bing was already benefitting from the added search traffic generated by new Windows 10 users. Launched on July 29, Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system includes Cortana, the software giant's answer to virtual assistants like Apple Siri and Google Now.
Cortana is powered, in part, by Bing search services. And as users continue to flock to Microsoft's latest operating system, Bing's share of the search market is inching upward.
"Windows 10 is also driving increased usage of other Microsoft services," noted Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in an Oct. 22 investor conference call. "Specifically, Bing's share is up to 20.7 percent in the U.S. and advertising revenue grew 29 percent worldwide, helped by Windows 10 users asking Cortana more than 1 billion questions."
During the same call, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood noted that the company's search business had surpassed the $1 billion mark and achieved profitability during its first quarter of fiscal year 2016 ending Sept. 30. "In search, we expect Bing's strong trajectory to continue, remaining profitable for the remainder of the year," she added.