ComScore Expands Its Measurement Of Search
Previously, qSearch results were limited to what comScore dubbed "classic search"--when a user typed a keyword or phrase into a search box on a site like Google or Yahoo.
The new version will measure keyword or phrase searches for videos on YouTube, locations on MapQuest, products on Amazon.com, profiles on social networks like MySpace, and searches from non-U.S. Web sites like China's Baidu.com and Korea's Naver.
Those searches will now go into a monthly list of the Top 50 search properties worldwide. qSearch reports will also include the number of search queries in the newly "expanded search universe" for the Top 10 search properties--breaking down Google's 6.6 billion searches, for example, into queries on Google.com (5.5 billion) and on YouTube/Other (1.1 billion).
In addition, comScore will measure searches along specific verticals, enabling share comparison for searches on Monster.com, Yahoo's HotJobs, and Careerbuilder.com, for example, as an analysis of career search market share.
The upgraded qSearch 2.0 will also measure searches regardless of how they are conducted--meaning in-toolbar, from a drop-down box, or by typing a query directly into the URL bar. The service will count searches on partner or affiliate sites that bring users back to results on a Yahoo or Google page, as well as multi-tab searches (where a user refines a single keyword search using an images or news tab).
But while the qSearch service has expanded to "extend the search universe beyond core search engines," according to Steve Dennen, comScore director of product management, the measurement firm still intends to publish a monthly core search market share report.
The core search share report will include affiliate, multi-tab, travel, finance and retail searches that run on Ask, Time Warner, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo's networks--but they will exclude local and map-based searches. comScore chose to stick closest to what had been reported historically, both "to maintain trends and avoid confusion around the most highly monetized areas of search," said Dennen.
Using the new system, Google still came out as the market share leader, gaining a bit of share (0.3 points) to take 55.2% of the market. Meanwhile, Yahoo's share slipped by the same amount, coming in second with 23.5%. MSN and Ask both gained 0.1%--for shares of 12.3% and 4.7%, respectively--but Time Warner's AOL slipped by 0.1 point for 4.4%.
But according to the Web measurement company, the inclusion of affiliate and multi-tab searches to the first qSearch 2.0 core search report proved to benefit Google disproportionately--so the represented changes in share were not driven by market factors.
According to Kathryn Kelly, director of public relations for Yahoo Search, Yahoo will be expanding its affiliate search program aggressively, as the company pulled back during the past year's preparation for, launch and integration of Panama.
"We saw a small dip, but it's not alarming," said Kelly. "We're still growing in terms of the number of searches, and we look at these reports as one of many ways to measure success."
Kelly also added that Yahoo has been making changes to its core search product on the consumer end, with plans to launch a major feature in September.
According to Steve Jacoby, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Send Traffic, the change is "a natural part of the search evolution, and the evaluation of 'cross-channel search' is very timely."
In terms of how the comScore's qSearch 2.0 affects search marketing, Jacoby added: "Companies, as a whole, need to become more granular as to where the search originates and the overall profitability from each one of these sources. Looking at multiple search placements (Web, images, news) should provide marketers with new insight into their overall campaign effectiveness."