Microsoft Bing U.S. Search Growth Slowed in September as Google Gains

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-14

Microsoft Bing only grew U.S. search engine market share from 9.3 percent in August to 9.4 percent in September, according to new results from comScore released Oct. 13.

Google, which will announce third-quarter results Oct. 15, again led the way with 64.9 percent of the search engine market in September, climbing from its 64.6 percent share in August.

Bing's minor growth contrasts sharply with its growth from July to August, when it rose from 8.9 percent to 9.3 percent, and from June to July, when it grew from 8.4 percent to 8.9 percent, according to comScore's statistics. 

The drop also dovetails, albeit conservatively, with the September statistics from HitWise and StatCounter. HitWise found Bing fell from 9.49 percent in August to 8.99 percent in September. StatCounter concluded Bing had a more precipitous drop from 9.6 percent in August to 8.5 percent in September.

Financial analysts predicted this would happen as curiosity about Bing, fueled by a $100 million marketing campaign, cooled. Some are even suggesting Bing's dip is the result of the dreaded N-word: novelty.

"Bing's 10 bp share gain in September was its lowest monthly increase since its launch, suggesting the search engine's novelty with users may be wearing off," BroadPoint AmTech analyst Benjamin Schachter wrote in a research note about the new ComScore numbers Oct. 13.

"The rebound in Google market share speaks to its brand affinity and may be the erosion of Bing's novelty factor," wrote Jefferies Research analyst Youssef Squali in a research note Oct. 14.

Despite the hint that users are growing lukewarm to Bing, Efficient Frontier said Oct. 13 Bing boasted nice gains in U.S. spend and click share for the third-quarter. Bing's share of spending grew to 5.3 percent in the third quarter, up from 4.3 percent in the second quarter. Bing also saw click share rise to 4.8 percent from 4.1 percent.

No. 2 search player Yahoo, which launched a new search interface and embarked on a $100 million ad campaign last month, is losing share to Bing and Google. Yahoo's search share fell 50 basis points from August to September, going from 19.3 percent to its current 18.8 percent share -- its lowest ever.

Still, Microsoft and Yahoo are in the midst of a search combination that would see Bing power Yahoo search, giving Microsoft roughly 28 percent of the search market. That's still miles away from Google, but a great deal better than Bing's current single digit share of 9.3 percent.

"While it is hard to predict whether Bing gains are sustainable, we believe Bing's momentum and increased scale from Yahoo (once the deal gets regulatory approvals) should help both companies compete more effectively with Google," Squali wrote.

He continued:

"While the loss of share amid mounting competition between Google and Microsoft highlights why Yahoo was prudent in doing the deal with Microsoft, the company needs to prevent further erosion to its owned and operated traffic if it is to maintain a healthy revenue stream from Microsoft. We expect Yahoo's investment in a differentiated search user interface (UI) and the $100 million ad campaign launched recently to help in that regard."

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