A bad week for AOL,Yahoo! and Groupon

There were some seismic shifts in the digital world this week that will probably mean the digital landscape will look dramatically different in the coming year.

Yahoo in trouble

Yahoo in trouble

With potty-mouthed Carol Bartz being fired from Yahoo, the rumours have started to surface about an impending sale, or possibly even a merger with AOL. What good could possibly come from that?

AOL is already having a torrid time as it suffers indigestion following the acquisition of Techcrunch.

Meanwhile, Groupon has delayed it’s IPO as it attempts to allay fears that it’s business model is sound. To make matters worth, Stephen Levy, author of “In the Plex“, provided a scathing analysis of Groupon’s business model in Wired this week. There’s an IPO that’s looking less attractive/likely by the week!

But it’s not all bad news.

This week Hitwise data showed that Microsoft’s Bing has grown it’s share of search in the US by 4%, and it looks to have come entirely from Google. The total picture might not be as impressive, since Hitiwse relies on ISP data and therefore doesn’t  account for the growing proportion of search taking place on mobile devices.

And, of course, Google continues to go from strength to strength with the acquisition of Zagat, aimed at boosting their Google Places service.

It’s never dull in this industry!

Bing Voice search comes to Kinect

Bing Voice Search on xBox

Just as we’re getting to grips with the challenges and opportunities within mobile search, it looks like we have more channels to contend with. With Google TV already live in the US, and guides to optimising your site for TV already exist; truly cross-channel digital campaigns are on their way.

With Bing Voice search Microsoft is really starting to leverage all it’s different online assets, including Kinect, it’s revolutionary games controller.

Don’t worry too much about the impact on your campaigns just yet though. The service is initially designed to search content on the console and the xBox LIVE network.

Google – stop confusing your users!

It’s been an interesting day for the Google homepage after they attempted to replicate Bing’s impactful photo homepages. However, after trying to force this new style on users, they appear to have reverted by the the “classic” look. Danny’s great article highlights how users got confused about the new interface. It’s clear to see why; Google just changed one of the most popular pages on the web without any explanation to it’s users.

Image courtesy of @melcarson

Yeah I know it was mentioned on the Official Google Blog, but that isn’t read by the average user of Google. I know I asked my wife and she just stared at me!

I’ve been ranting about this very problem for a number of years. Google educates us search geeks and advertisers on changes they making to the SERPS, but they spend no time explaining things to joe public.

Just think of all the changes that Google has made over the last 2 years alone!

I truly think this is why some new products, such as pay per call,  don’t hit their full potential. Nobody explained to the typical searcher what was changing and why. In this communication void I wouldn’t be surprised if some users think that the search engine is actually broken or even been hacked!

Hopefully, today’s climbdown  this will make Google re-think their comms planning.