Month-to-month fluctuations in search engine query market share don't mean much, but sequential or year-over-year ups and downs could identify the beginnings of a trend. comScore released explicit core search market share numbers for July late Tuesday. The data reveals that Google fell slightly to 65.1% from 65.5% in June. Microsoft and Ask remained flat at 14.4% and 2.9%, respectively. AOL rose to 1.5% from 1.4%.
Yahoo became the big winner for the month. Search query market share rose to 16.1% in July, from 15.9% in June.
JP Morgan Analyst Doug Anmuth notes in a research report that Yahoo will need stronger year-on-year growth to ultimately realize benefits from its outsourcing deal with Microsoft. As a reminder, he writes, Microsoft guarantees revenue per search (RPS) through first-quarter 2012 -- but not overall revenue, so query volume and share remain critical.
Although both the Bing and the adCenter teams report to Qi Lu, Microsoft's GM for adCenter and Search Networks David Pann explained some recent changes to the engineering groups and "cross pollination" of technologies between Bing and adCenter during a recent chat.
Did the search alliance between Bing and Yahoo contribute to the uptick on Yahoo? Bing's engineers began working in and with the adCenter team six months ago, creating a strategy to share algorithmic technology across organic and paid-search platforms that should help to increase RPS. The adCenter team tapped the code from Bing's related search algorithm to improve match types.
Testing possible improvements for paid-search ad matches with search queries requires hundreds of experiments and production tests on Bing and Yahoo that can run from weeks to months. A small group examines the click-yield improvements and cost-per-click changes to assess the value for consumers, advertisers and publishers. Based on those results, changes are pushed from test into production, explains Pann.
Bing might not have seen improvements in search query market share for July compared with June, but some search engine platform companies agree that relevance continues to improve.
AOL, which also added a fraction to market share, reported Tuesday that second-quarter 2011 advertising revenue rose 5%, compared with the year-ago quarter. Display ad revenue rose 14%, but search and contextual ad revenue fell 21% as a result of the July 2010 sale of ICQ, an instant message computer program and service.