Google Gains in Search as Facebook, Twitter Drive E-Commerce

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-12-10

Google garnered 71.8 percent of U.S. searches in November, growing more than a full percentage point from its 70.6 percent share from October 2009, according to the latest figures from HitWise.

The Web analytics firm found that Yahoo slipped 5 percent from October, dropping from 16.1 percent to 15.4 percent, while Bing dipped 2 percent, from 9.6 percent to 9.3 percent. All info was based on 10 million U.S. Internet searchers.

Search in verticals saw an upswing, as one might expect during the holiday shopping season. Google sent the most visits to automotive, shopping, health and travel. However, Bing, which bills itself as a decision engine to help drive consumers to shopping deals, saw great double-digit growth, albeit from a low starting point.

Specifically, Bing nearly doubles its share of automotive searches, going from 1.26 percent in November 2008 to 2.34 percent last month. Bing also grew searches from 1.78 percent in the health vertical to 3.4 percent from a year ago. Bing gained more modestly in shopping and travel, according to HitWise's chart.

But while U.S. shoppers searched Google, Yahoo and Bing for shopping deals, these search sites are getting some competition, or perhaps some help, from social media sites.

ComScore said in its Dec. 8 holiday shopping report that retail e-commerce spending for the first 36 days of the November and December 2009 holiday season hit nearly $16 billion, a 3 percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.

ComScore conducted a survey and found that 28 percent of those who have begun their holiday shopping this season said social media has influenced their purchases.

Seven percent of respondents said they followed a Facebook fan page to find special offers and deals, while 6 percent said they have been influenced by a friend's Facebook status update referring to a particular product.

Five percent of those surveyed said they had followed a company on Twitter to take advantage of special offers and deals. Three percent said that a friend's Twitter tweet helped trigger their product purchases.

It is unclear whether those who were influenced to make purchases by Facebook or Twitter updates went directly to e-commerce retailers' Websites to make purchases or made their way to the retailers via Google, Yahoo or Bing. If the latter is the case, the social networks are nice complements to the search engines. 

While the percentages of those influenced by Facebook or Twitter updates to make buys were modest, they point to an emerging trend, comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said.

"Social media really appears to be emerging as an important marketing channel this holiday season," said Fulgoni. "One the one hand, its emergence is being driven by increased consumer adoption of these technologies and the exponential growth in digital word-of-mouth that is occurring over this medium. On the other hand, having a social media marketing strategy makes sense for retailers in this environment because it's cost-effective and shows an effort to get closer to one's customers."

One needn't tell Dell that. The computer maker reported that it banked $6.5 million in sales for PCs, accessories and software thanks to its promotional placement on Twitter.

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