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Higher Education Marketing

Search Wars

Date posted: February 2, 2011

For those of you curious about search engine market shares, Google remains the top dog, even if Bing has staked out a place for itself. According to Experian Hitwise, Google has a 72% share of the market, followed by Bing’s 25%. The Microsoft search engine, however, may continue to grow, as only a few months ago, the company finished moving Yahoo’s North American paid search listings over to their adCenter advertising platform, creating a search alliance that has aided their competition with Google.

Advertisers who use adCenter have their listings appear on search engine results pages of Bing and Yahoo, and the single platform means they will be able to reach almost a third of Internet users in the U.S. and Canada, according to Microsoft.

As we have made clear in past newsletters and on our site, Higher Education Marketing does a large portion of its Pay per Click Marketing with Google AdWords. However, this search alliance between Yahoo and Bing has helped our clients reach the 25% search market share, as the adCentre control panel has simplified the management process. The worry initially was that advertisers might see higher prices as a result of the one adCenter platform, as adCenter is an auction-based marketplace (with higher volume leading to higher bids for popular keywords), but since the announcement of the Bing/Yahoo search alliance, Higher Education Marketing has seen great ROI numbers from adCenter.

The agreement between Microsoft and Yahoo is a 10-year deal that will see 12% revenue from Yahoo-driven go to Microsoft. The deal only covers search listings, however, and not display advertising. The companies are also working on combining their international search operations.

Whether or not this increase their share of the market remains to be seen. What is obvious though, is that the competition will remain fierce, especially now that Google is claiming Microsoft copies their search results.

In a sting operation, Google created bogus search terms (tied to unrelated search results) and checked to see if they appeared on Bing – they did.

In a written statement, Google said, “Our testing has concluded that Bing is copying Google web search results. At Google we strongly believe in innovation and are proud of our search quality. We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there, from Bing and others — algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results copied from a competitor.

Microsoft replied in a blog post, and tried to re-focus the discussion on the way Bing works.

“We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.”

The search war will likely continue then, which can only be good news for our clients.