The merger would and should affect the whole of SEM industry. While the users, stockholders and all the stakeholders are wide eyed at the developments as they progress, the webmasters and publishers too are concerned about the aftermath. Aaron Wall takes and insightful stock of the upcoming scenario.
The critical aspects to keep a tab on would be Organic Search, PPC Ads / Paid Search Advertising, Display & Contextual Ads and International Search.
A bit too much weight is given to generated content by Yahoo! which translates into some unworthy tag pages getting a placement on websites with a higher score. With Microsoft it's easy to rank on low authority websites, provided there are sufficient new incoming links and it stresses on domain names in the relevancy algorithms.
We saw a closure of Microsoft's small business directory and also of regional Yahoo! directories' acceptance of paid submissions. The merger could see more services being done away with.
Both Yahoo! Shopping and Microsoft Shopping do well, a merged shopping portal would rank on top, and slots would be created for lesser known competitors. Another, face lift for the merged search engine could see, lesser ads than 4 placed above the fold for conducting commercial searches; at present Yahoo! places 4 ads. A merged engine wouldn't need to keep it that way to increase the marketshare, so a greater number of organic search results would win a higher stream of traffic.
The paid inclusion program of Yahoo! may be tapered off and closed in the future as it perhaps costs quite a lot in public relations damage. Another expectation is that Yahoo! which is already quite good could be combined with desktop widgets on Vista.
PPC Ads / Paid Search Advertising
Yahoo! Search's ad platform is considered clumsy, on the other hand Microsoft is innovative as far as their ad platform and advertiser tool set are concerned.
Google is considered as secretive with sharing data prospective advertisers, Yahoo! too followed in the same footsteps with the launch of Panama. Microsoft's latest Excel ad plugin on the other hand shares a whole lot of data with advertisers. So a merger could see more data being shared by the combo which might force Google to change its own strategy as well. The Ad campaign management would also be facilitated with the confluence of services.
Display & Contextual Ads
Microsoft owns aQuantive and has acquired a large scale display ad serving capability, combined with Yahoo!'s high pageviews these strengths could be leveraged across their big network of sites.
YPN could be out of perpetual beta, and an alternative to AdSense should be created resulting in increased share paid to smaller publishers.