Microsoft Bing Sends Web Analytics Scrambling

bing vs. googleSearch engines have been fundamentally changing the way they serve up information. They now bring more content to the people in search queries, rather than pull searchers to the Web site that house text and videos. This shift has put pressure on Webtrends, Omniture, Coremetrics and other Web analytics companies to change, too.

Preliminary data suggests that bounce rates on Web sites have declined from people originating on Bing, according to Brian Cummins, product manager for search marketing at Coremetrics.

A fundamental change in Microsoft Bing pulls content from indexed Web sites and displays the navigation path and variations on the search query off to the side. Clicking on the new keyword helps the searcher find information more quickly, but marketers will only have visibility to data on the last click. They won't know the person originally searched for "mortgages." They will only know the person searched for "mortgage rates," Cummins explains. "It's not clear what will make queries return higher in results," he said. "We are still in a wait-to-see mode, observing the features that stick, and if people abandon an older search engine of choice for Bing."

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Webtrends marketing VP, suggests that companies should pay close attention to related paths when creating content to understand how customers are finding their site from Bing.

Preliminary tests show a clear distinction in the keywords and the content driving traffic from Bing vs. Google and Yahoo, Kaykas-Wolff says. "We have moved past traditional marketing where you buy against the CPM into content marketing, which is a lot stronger," he says. "As a business, it helps me understand the type of content I should create to get products in front of customers."

Businesses monitoring traffic should know that industry experts point to many broken links on Bing that could prevent potential customers from reaching their site. Paid search links have also been scarce, for some paid ads. Some suggest that Microsoft is rolling out the ad service more slowly. The assumption was not confirmed.

Among the specific features in Bing, shopping, maps and video have received some attention. People searching in the video section in Bing can mouse over clips to view the content. But previewing views don't register points in the Web analytics engines until a physical click takes the person to the hosted site.

Although Web analytics count clicks, Webtrends and others cannot measure the "rollover" view. That will change, according to Bill Mungovan, senior director of product marketing at Omniture. "Page views on Bing might be lower than page views from users on other types of search engines," he said. "Consumers might be less willing to click around to dig for something on your Web site because they have been trained to expect answers more quickly."

Companies will have to become more familiar with engagement versus page views to understand the length of time someone watches a video or time spent on the site, Mungovan says. Businesses will begin to care less about the quantity of page views and more about quality.

2 comments about "Microsoft Bing Sends Web Analytics Scrambling".
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  1. Jiri Vala from Mindshare, June 5, 2009 at 12:19 p.m.

    Great article Laurie.
    The trend toward engagement is a hopeful one -- I have tried for years to help clients understand that the quality of visitors is just as (or more) important than the quantity of visitors to a site. Despite it's shortcomings, Google Analytics has lead the charge in focusing on segmentable visitor behaviors rather than just web stats. The major web analytics players have a lot more catching up to do.

    It is interesting that Bing has not rolled out advertising with the launch. Perhaps the algorithm is as unique as Microsoft claims. I am curious as to which of Microsoft's three search properties will now become the standard for advertising and which ones will not make it through 2010.

    Jiri Vala

  2. Alex peerenboom Alex peerenboom from HEROweb, June 6, 2009 at 1:49 a.m.

    We have seen a lot of change recently from Google and now bing. There are so many news ways of presenting the search information.

    I think the focus that bing gives on users need to make a decision could be a real benefit to small business. The combination of shopping, and increased localization of SERPs is huge opportunity for small businesses to reach more customers. And they might not even need a brick-and-motor store either.

    It will be really interesting to see how the analytics vendors respond to these new methods.

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