Bing, Bing, Bing! Microsoft’s search market share climbs

Redmond (WA) – I still doubt that Bing will be enough for Microsoft to attack Google’s dominating role in the search market, but if we believe data published by Comscore then it seems that Bing has increased Microsoft search market share and, more importantly, it was able to hold on to those gains in the first week after launch.

Bing is off to a good start, according to Comscore, improving Microsoft’s search market share by 1.7 points to 15.5% in the week following Bing’s launch. The advertising revenue-relevant share of search results pages also increased by 2.0% to 11.1% in the same time frame.

“These initial data suggest that Microsoft Bing has generated early interest, resulting in a spike in search engagement and an immediate term improvement to Microsoft’s position in the search market,” said Mike Hurt, Comscore senior vice president. “So far it appears that the lifts in searcher penetration and engagement have held relatively steady throughout the five-day period. The ultimate performance of Bing depends on the extent to which it generates more trial through its extensive launch campaign and whether it retains those trial users. It appears it is off to a good start.”

Comscore’s observations appear to be confirmed by hourly market share data by Net Applications, which does not measure actual searches, but visits to search sites. According to Net Applications, visits to Bing are at their lowest points in the early hours of the day (Eastern time), with values of about 3.3%. The highest values are reached by mid-day and currently to out at about 6.5%. The numbers have been relatively stable since the launch of the search engine and actually show a slight upward trend.   
Given Google’s growing dominance in the search market, Microsoft is in a tough spot with Bing. Prior to the introduction of Bing, Microsoft’s search market share was estimated at 8.3% (for April) and the share has been declining for several years now. Yahoo was listed with a 20.4% share, while Google held 64.2%. It will take some time to determine where Microsoft’s market share gains are coming from and whether Microsoft can climb enough to challenge Google in the future.

Microsoft’s biggest challenge will be to differentiate itself from Google with features such as Bing’s stunning video thumbnails, which play within search results through a simple mouse over. And Microsoft will need to resolve obvious weakness such as the complexity in navigating the site and will have to better handle challenges such as the direct access to pornographic content that is displayed by searching for specific terms and that may be well beyond the comfort level of parents.