Why Microsoft’s Bing is The Grand Old Duke of York
Poor Bing.com. It seems that for every good news I read, I read something equally pessimistic. It’s gotten to the point where I think of Bing as the Grand Old Duke of York (bear with me if you’re not English-born):
The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.
OK, first the good news! Efficient Frontier is reporting that Microsoft’s Bing.com is seeing an 8% increase in the number of clicks on paid search results. They’re also reporting a 20% lift in the number of overall search queries conducted on the search engine since the re-brand.
OK, now for the "when they were down, they were down" news.
Compete is challenging the reports that Bing is seeing an increase in market share–certainly one that can last. Key to its argument:
…this uptick hasn’t come at the expense of Google or Yahoo!, which have maintained searcher penetration since Bing’s launch.
New searchers are exploring Bing, but they haven’t forsaken their preferred engines and made the switch completely.
OK, but here’s where we get to that part where 3rd-party data is open to interpretation by the reader. See, Compete suggests that Bing.com has seen a reduction in the amount of search queries per searcher since launch:
Compete’s interpretation of this:
Prior to Bing’s launch, Microsoft maintained an average 5.2 queries per searcher. Since Bing’s launch, the average has dropped by 1.3 queries or 25%, with millions dropping by just to perform a couple of trial queries.
I’m not so sure, and I suspect Microsoft might have something to say about this too. You see, one of the key messages behind Bing’s launch is that searchers are spending too much time searching for what they need. Bing is intentionally designed to reduce the amount of searching needed, before the searcher finds what they are looking for, hence the whole "decision engine" push.
So what we do know is that paid search clicks are up, search queries per user are down, but market share may be neither up nor down.