After Yahoo replaced Google as the default search engine on Mozilla’s newest Firefox browser in November, it didn’t take long for the deal brokered by CEO Marissa Mayer to pay off.
The next month Yahoo posted its largest share of search in years, leaping from 7.4% to 10.4%. Google’s share, in contrast, dropped from 79.3% to 75.2%, the lowest point on record, according to StatCounter. Bing is also in the running, with 12.5% of search.
If Yahoo can hold on to its gains, the upside could be substantial. Search advertising is a $50 billion market, far eclipsing the $34 billion market for display ads, and it continues to grow at rates close to 10% per year, according to PwC.
“The question now is whether Firefox users switch back to Google,” says Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter.
It appears that some of them may already have: Firefox fans represent 12% of U.S. Internet users, versus the 10% share that Yahoo now claims.
As for Google, the downshift, while potentially temporary, arrives as analysts spell out the case for the search giant’s declining power. “Google is dominant when it comes to the algorithm, but lacks the human touch needed for social or viral content,” argues analyst Ben Thompson, who is bullish on native ads.