Microsoft's share of paid clicks has been expanding in the two weeks following the release of Bing, its new search engine, according to an analysis conducted by search engine marketing company Efficient Frontier.
Backed by an advertising budget reportedly in the $80 million to $100 million range, Bing combines traditional keyword search with the ability to drill down into specific categories such as "Images" and "Shopping."
"Having seen ComScore's release that Bing's searcher penetration rose again in the second week after launch," Efficient Frontier wrote in a June 23 corporate blog post, "we were curious if our data would show Bing's click share gains expanding, holding or falling back to previous levels."
That report by research company ComScore found solid numbers in Bing's second week, with its daily penetration among U.S. searchers increasing by three percentage points to 16.7 percent. During that same period, the study also found, Microsoft's share of U.S. search result pages increased to 12.1 percent, up three points over the weeklong period before Bing's June 1 release.
In a note accompanying that report, Mike Hurt, senior vice president of ComScore, wrote, "The ultimate performance of Bing depends on the extent to which it generates more trial [users] through its extensive launch campaign and whether it retains those trial users."
According to Efficient Frontier's analysis, in its second week Bing expanded Microsoft's share of paid clicks by 13 percent in its second week of release when compared with the company's share in the immediate prelaunch period. In turn, this 13 percent represents a five-point rise over the 8 percent click increase of Bing's first week.
"As we mentioned in our last post, if Bing's click share gains hold we expect advertisers to allocate additional budget to Microsoft," Efficient Frontier's blog post said, cautioning: "However ... two weeks does not make a trend." The company also noted that Microsoft continues to lag behind Yahoo and Google in overall paid clicks.
Publicly, Microsoft seems happy so far with Bing's impact on the market.
"We have had some very good initial response," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly told the National Summit in Detroit on June 17. "I don't want to over-set expectations. We are going to have to be tenacious and keep up the pace of innovation over a long period of time."
However, some of Ballmer's fellow corporate titans appear to feel that Bing will ultimately be unable to retain that momentum in the search engine wars.
"They're not going to get scale through Bing," Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, said during the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch U.S. Technology Conference in New York on June 3. She further suggested that interest in the search engine would be "temporary."
Whether temporary or not, public interest in Bing seems to have reversed a stagnant-to-declining trend in Microsoft's search fortunes.
In April, previous to Bing's launch, a ComScore report found that Google held about 64.2 percent of the U.S. core search engine market, while Yahoo came in second with 20.4 percent of the market and Microsoft third with 8.2 percent. A report by Nielsen found that Microsoft's share of the market previous to Bing had dropped 14.6 percent between May 2008 and May 2009.