The Search Landscape

Feb 28, 2005 - 12:34 pm 0 by


This room is packed, people standing out the doors, siting on the floor and hanging from the ceilling. Three firms are up on the panel who collect data all across the Web on search related topics.

First up was James Lamberti from Comscore Networks and he runs the search group there. They get their data from 1.5 million consumers, who have agreed to be continously and passively observed. They collect all search activity, actual purchase, and other transactions. They capture everything. The data sources are many and he didn't go through them all. Search development by country, the US is lagging behind in terms of searches per searcher available. Meaning, there are more internet users in the US, but as a percentage of those users, less are using search then other countries. Google dominates around the world, but in the US, Google does not totally dominate. 22.4% search growth from Jan 04 - 05, but Work consumer group has frown 25%. Google and Yahoo have gain share at the expense of AOL, within the US. But since May 04 or so, everything has pretty much remain constant in the search area. He then broke down the share of market by segment, School: Google 42%, Yahoo 32%. Work; Google 37%, Yahoo 30% and MSN 19%. Local search trends show a slow growth from 8.3% to 10%, meaning searchers using Google and adding in state or local parameters in the query. He points out that most of it is happening at many search engines and not at yellow pages, etc. Growth in toolbar searches have grown 136% in the US since Jan 04. He said 17 - 18% of searches are coming from toolbars, WOW. 58% of searchers have not installed the toolbars and 12% have uninstalled the toolbar. In search there is a 20 - 68 rule, 20% of the users contribute 68% of volume. Heavy searchers are less likely to click on the sponsored links (27%). He noted that there is "impression value" in having your result come up in the sponsored links. 22% of the people who do not search represent 4% of the buyers online (hmmm). Satisfaction is high from most search engines. Most important search attributes for search engines at this time is privacy (Google toolbar). When you ask them, what will make you switch, the top answer is "relevancy". 49% of the searches powered by Google is happening outside of Google, which is interesting. He notes that this is still a wide open market. A vast majority of converts, are done offline, meaning lots of people doing research online will buy offline. So its very important to be able to somehow track offline conversions (a session on that later).

Bill Tancer from Hitwise, and he introduced himself as "I Love Data". He called himself a huge geek, he said finally numbers and data have become cool. They monitor the largest worldwide sample of internet users. They categorize them into 160 cats. Market share of visits to all internet sites on the Web, Google 3.1% Yahoo 1.7% and MSN 1.5% - Google has grown the most. Search volume indicates that Google is currently driving 55.5% of all US Internet searches, Yahoo 30.8% and MSN 6.64%. He gathered some clickstream data, its interesting to see that most of the search traffic is coming from the parent (, but Google's upstream is coming from a wide share %, which differs from the rest. The top search from Yahoo and MSN are more navigational ( and Google is not like that (more internet savvy). The demographics between the engines are very close, Google has a slightly higher male pop and higher income pop. He is popping up some really cool and informative slides, wish I can type faster. Google skews slightly to smaller cities compared to the other engines. Google Desktop vs. Yahoo Desktop, there is a strong skew towards the mature users, the 55+ group are more likely to use Desktop search. Verticalization of Search, will the shopping engines, etc. cannibalize the main search business. Health and medical search verticles have gone up 10% and 45% come from the main engines. 10.23% of the searches from Google go to shopping and classified sites of that eBay is the top, then amazon, etc. But when looking at other engines, it was extremely similar in the percentages. The theory is that over time, people will start have brand identity with these vertical engines and take away some traffic from main engines.

Ken Cassar from Nielsen//NetRatings was the last one up. Google's market share is at 47%, Yahoo at 21%, MSN 13% and AOL at 5%. They define a search as someone entering in a query and pressing the enter key. Google also has the largest audience of exclusive searchers; 29.7m. Yahoo has 13.7m and MSN has 12.2m and then he overlapped them (which is nice, there is an ton of cross usage of the engines). The search boom has been more driven by advertisers than consumers. Demand is not the main reason for growth, it is the supply pushing it up. This all highlights the need for innovation, in his opinion. There has been many people who talk about running out of supply. He feels its more about building more cost to switching, that should be interesting to see. MSN is advertising, Yahoo! was doing ads on local offerings and Ask is doing some ads. He said several significant groups of advertisers have not yet embraced search advertising, including; high consideration brand advertisers and low consideration direct marketers (oh so true). Is there a brand impact on people seeing paid listings? They did some tests and they saw a statistically signification different with paid listings. He won't go as far to say that brand building is better done with paid listings then through TV spots (would you?). He believes local is the single biggest opportunity there, and he points out Yahoo!. He does a query and shows some nice search results from Yahoo. A9 is an other engine focused on this he says, "Click to Call Business" (pay per call?). Local searches 3% versus all other searches 97%. They define local by using a local property, unlike Bill's or James figures which use the query term to determine local searches.


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