On A Bing And A Prayer

Microsoft unveiled Bing nearly two weeks ago, but the search engine has not seen a noticeable shift in query market share since it officially launched on the Web last week, according to research released Wednesday by Compete.

The research suggests that people increased searches on Microsoft's Bing "fairly dramatically" on the day the engine launched. And while a significant number of new users tried Bing and remain with the engine, the increase does not appear to come from Google or Yahoo. The user base at the competing engines remains essentially flat.

On the day Bing launched, Google held 73.1% market share of U.S.-based search queries, compared with Yahoo at 15.4% and Bing at 5.3%. The following day, those numbers held steady at 73.2%, 16.1% and 5.3%, respectively. Aggregate numbers suggest that traffic has been tracking similar to launch. On June 6, those numbers changed slightly, respectively, to 72.3%, 16.5%, and 5.7%.

The numbers suggest that people are testing Bing alongside Google and Yahoo, according to Alex Patriquin, senior analyst at Compete. "They have managed to get a lot of attention, but will it last?" he asks.

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On June 1, Microsoft redirected search from several of its properties -- primarily search engines at MSN.com and Live.com to Bing.com, Patriquin says. Media buzz and advertising have also attracted people to the new engine. Between 3% and 4% are trying to search on Bing, but appear to go back to their default engine.

"Microsoft has set up a new chapter, and before anything happens they will have to let Bing survive in the wild," says Patriquin.

That means waiting until the hoopla surrounding the $100 million campaign dies down to see if the search engine sticks with people, Patriquin says. It may take another two to three months before analysts can analyze early reaction to the engine.

Patriquin admits that stats could change as more data comes to the results page along with the query. One measure of the efficiency of a search engine is the number of queries it takes to get to a referral, which are subsequent results generated by the first query. This is particularly true of Bing because it pulls so much data onto the search engine, from calculations to previews.

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