Catalyst said all users looked at the top ad area, but only half of these users looked at the right ad, considered a secondary ad. Those that did look at the right ad glanced at the right ad on Bing for an average of 1 second, compared with an average of 0.6 seconds on Google.
However, the second group doing the hotel search yielded markedly different results among users looking at the top and right ads. Those who did a hotel search on Google looked at the top ad for an average of 2.7 seconds compared with just 1.7 seconds for those doing a hotel search on Bing. Again, three of the six users looked at the right ad, to the tune of 2.9 seconds for Google, and 1.5 seconds for Bing.
What does this prove? Not much. Bing did better than Google on the camera search, but Google beat Bing on the hotel search. The camera and hotel ad results were a wash.
Similarly, in a classic case of different strokes for different folks, several users liked the photos used as the background of the Bing homepage, but others found the photos distracting and thought that it made Bing feel like a travel site, according to Catalyst.
That may ultimately not be such a bad thing. Microsoft envisions users doing searches and getting directed to e-commerce sites to make purchases, whether it's buying cameras or booking hotels or airline flights. If Microsoft can generate lots of cash from advertisements and help consumers make purchases (and make money themselves from Bing Cashback), the company will have a valuable proposition.
Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land sees how both Google and Microsoft can take comfort in, and be wary of, the Catalyst results.
It is true 12 people is hardly a solid foundation on which Google or Microsoft can build a case for which search engine is better. Does it matter? Google's search engine market share is a daunting 65 percent.
According to the 2-1 ratio in the Catalyst study, that's a lot of users that remain comfortable with not only Google search, but its other Web services, such as Gmail and Docs. Unless more users begin to get uncomfortable with Google, Microsoft has a long road ahead of it.