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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Numbers? We Got Numbers!

comScore Media Metrix recently sent out a press release in the wake of the Yahoo-Overture merger detailing the "share of searches submitted by U.S. Internet users, May 2003." This from their proprietary "qSearch" study which I gather isn't available without a subscription.

In any case, some interesting findings:

Google Sites 32%
Yahoo! Sites 25%
AOL Time Warner 19%
MSN-Microsoft Sites 15%
Ask Jeeves 3%


Now allow me to do some funny math to capture the "true" picture as it were. This might not be quite exact because "searches" might measure various types of search on the major portal properties, but it's the thought that counts, right? Since Google powers both Yahoo Search and AOL Search, if you assign the lion's share of searches on those portal properties to Google, you arrive at the conclusion that Google might be powering 60-70% of all online searches. That really doesn't surprise me. (Where do you search? How about anyone else you know?)

The proprietary or "other co-brand" parts of AOL and Yahoo aside, MSN is now outgunned by Google something like 5 to 1, with no other strong players in sight. Ask Jeeves is lucky to have its 3%, and AltaVista, FAST, and Inktomi are all being gutted for spare parts or repurposed in one form or another by their new owner, Yahoo.

As for shares of sponsored keyword links, Google has surpassed Overture, according to comScore Media Metrix's numbers:

% of U.S. Searches Served by Paid Search Affiliate Network
May 2003

SOURCE: comScore qSearch

Google Network 54%
Overture Network 45%

That one confuses me a bit, since it's obvious they're exluding LookSmart and FindWhat. For some of our clients, FindWhat generates more leads for us than Google - they must have a bigger share than half a percent.

In any case, it's pretty clear that if your optimizing your site for search engines or advertising on them, Google is where the consumers are. Don't take my word for it. Look at the stats.

As longtime portal watchers, we'd always sort of treated Yahoo! as if it were the "flagship" portal or the "real" portal with AOL as a kind of pumped-up ISP whose training wheels would someday be obsolete, and with MSN generating a lot of phony claims and phony numbers. That seems to be proving true. MSN's publicity machine would have you believe that they're ready to take the search market by storm, but we're not buying it. And as Cory's blog on AOL (down the page a bit) suggests, AOL has tired of exaggerating its own importance in the current online landscape. That's refreshing.

It looks like the handwriting is on the wall for some big online brands. Their next few moves could be important ones.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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