Monthly Archives: February 2010

A hard lesson learned on user preferences and search engines

As a technologist who’s focused on marketing, I love stats (short for statistics) because they help me tell a story. But as a former researcher, I’m very familiar with the famous quote by humorist Mark Twain:

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”

At last night’s AiMA event on search engine strategies, the speakers referenced a study where users showed no significant preference to Bing or Google. After a short web search (via Google), I found the research paper by the Catalyst Group (see below). In the study, users reported that they wouldn’t switch from their current search engines even though Bing possessed some favorable improvements to Google. Continue reading

Bing to eclipse Yahoo! search in late 2010

Comscore released the January 2010 rankings for search engines in the U.S. last week (source). In the release comScore indicated that Google lost 0.3% share of core search in the US in January 2010 (see below). This is the first indication that Google may be struggling to pick up additional market share from rivals, but data for the remainder of Q1 2010 is required to determine if Google has truly reached a search saturation point. If it has, we can expect Google revenue to stabilize or potentially drop but so far they continue to grow a healthy pace.

Google search market for Q3 and Q4 2009 vs. January 2010

The big news is that Microsoft’s search engine Bing picked up an additional 0.6% share of US core search in January 2010 from rivals Yahoo!, AOL and Ask.com. As can be seen below, Bing has experienced strong growth in the past two quarters, which are mostly attributed to new deals (source).

Bing Yahoo Ask AOL percent Search Share Q3 Q4 2009

Based on trending analysis of the comScore data, it seems that Bing will eclipse Yahoo sometime between August 2010 and November 2010 (the latter point based on Bing growing while Yahoo remaining the same). While Yahoo has announced a $100 M global marketing campaign to promote its revamped web portal (source), it may be too late to save the Yahoo brand. After all, we know that:

  • Microsoft has given no indication that they’re going to spend money on search, even if it is a losing proposition. In addition to committing $100 M to market the search engine (source), Microsoft made numerous attempts to showcase Bing at the expense of Google. These include a exclusive alliance with News Corporation’s websites, including the Wall Street Journal  (source) and deals to become the default search engine on the iPhone (source). Microsoft recently announced the integration of Bing search with Facebook (source), which means that 400 M social users will now see Bing search. For Microsoft to catch up to Google, they must produce a better search solution but they must remind consumers that Bing is a good solution.
  • Traffic to Yahoo’s portal has lost significant market share over the past year. Yahoo properties’s share went from 67.7% in December 2008 (source) to 56.8% in December 2009 (source). The loss of eyeballs at both Yahoo and MyYahoo portal is likely the culprit of declining search market share.

While something big can always happen, it seems that Yahoo’s decline is inevitable. RIP Yahoo.

Search Share Trends Yahoo Bing 2010

No significant buzz from Google Buzz

Google made headlines today with their first foray into social activity streaming (source). The new feature is basically like a Twitter tweet or a Facebook wall post embedded into gmail (Google’s email service).

To test it out, I tried it both on my desktop and my mobile device (the iPhone). I posted a quick status update about a meeting that I had in the afternoon and then I used the GPS-enables search capability to search for buzz posts from friends and people that are nearby. And the verdict is?

Google BuzzWhile Google may have thought that it had a hit on their hands, it feels more like a buzz-kill to me. There are several issues with this new service:

  1. It is force social networking in email. Google opted to directly introduce this feature instead of using the Gmail Labs capabilities to introduce this feature as an add-on (the way that Google normally introduces new features). Google also added a special icon to this feature to draw focus to this new feature, ensuring that gmail users pay attention to it.
  2. Google didn’t make Buzz super-intuitive. As a Google Wave user, I’ve wanted to tie my Wave, which is collaborative message, to an email as a means of continuing the conversation. While I learned that Google Buzz has this feature, I didn’t pick up on it until I watched the video (source). I also had a co-worker asking me how they can tie Buzz to Twitter, which they didn’t think was very obvious.
  3. People don’t seem to know how to to use Buzz. I must be a super early adopter because NO ONE (and I mean none of my technologically or marketing savvy friends) seemed to have used Buzz to post a single buzz. The worst part about this test is that I know that they checked their gmail account at least once today so I would have expected to see one buzz. I think that this is indicative that while Google may have a significant user base, the Google Buzz service in by itself is not enough to entice a user to post to an activity stream nor is it a good replacement of twitter.

For Google, Buzz is a necessary service. It helps Google:

  1. Generate more traffic/interest in Gmail. Gmail has less users than Hotmail and Yahoo so they need a service to increase subscribers.
  2. Google Buzz creates a solution to connects your email with Twitter.  This feature is incredibly value to marketers who want to understand the consumers that interact with their brands. While DandyID offers a similar capability, Google already has a larger user base so it is game over for DandyID.
  3. Buzz establishes a new page view/instance to sell an add. Google isn’t doing this because they want to offer something cool/evolutionary — Google needs buzz to goose their ad revenue (even if they don’t roll this feature out immediately).

The one thing that I noted on the first evening of having access to Google Buzz is that interest was fading fast. While Google Buzz was ranked 4th in hot search topics in the USA, it dropped to the 10th spot within 20 minutes (see below).

Google Buzz Search Topic Ranking

Let’s hope that tomorrow’s a better day for this shinny new service.