Microsoft's Bing Has Solid Start, comScore Says

Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, had a solid start during its first week of release, helping to increase the total market share for Microsoft's search-related sites. Microsoft finds itself in fierce search-engine competition against Google and Yahoo, with all three companies rapidly innovating in order to maintain or gain market share. Trying to gauge Bing's impact has been difficult since several reports have measured its impact differently.

A preliminary survey by comScore suggests that Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, has exhibited solid performance during its first week of public launch.

The survey, which comScore released June 9, showed that the rate of searcher penetration for Microsoft sites increased by 1.7 percent in the period following Bing's launch, to 15.5 percent, while its share of search-results pages increased by 2 percent, to 11.1 percent market share.

The rate of searcher penetration, or the average daily penetration among U.S. searchers, is "an indication that the search engine is reaching more people than before," according to comScore.

comScore sees the results as largely positive for Microsoft.

"These initial data suggest that Microsoft Bing has generated early interest, resulting in a spike in search engagement and an immediate term improvement to Microsoft's position in the search market," Mike Hurt, senior vice president of comScore, wrote in a statement. "So far it appears that the lifts in searcher penetration and engagement have held relatively steady throughout the five-day period."

"The ultimate performance of Bing depends on the extent to which it generates more trial through its extensive launch campaign and whether it retains those trial users," Hurt added. "It appears it is off to a good start."

A comScore report for April 2009 showed Microsoft in third place in the search-engine wars, with 8.2 percent of the market, behind Yahoo with 20.4 percent and Google with 64.2 percent.

Microsoft launched Bing on June 1, rolling out a search engine that operates in both a traditional manner, with pages of hyperlinks in response to a query, and also a more granular manner, with tabs that users can click on for search in a specific area. Those tab categories include "Images," "Videos," "Shopping," "News," "Maps," and "Travel."
A very early report from StatCounter, within a few days of Bing's launch, said that the search engine had overtaken Yahoo in U.S. market share, with 16.28 percent of the market versus Yahoo's 10.22 percent.

However, later reports by Nielsen and other Web traffic-tracking firms disputed this, so it remain somewhat unclear what impact Bing is having now and what its overall impact will be in the coming months.

According to a report in The New York Times, Microsoft plans on pumping between $80 million and $100 million into promoting Bing.