The Not So Great Search Engine Market Reach Survey

UPDATE – When I woke up this morning, after having published this post … ummm, really early this morning, Webmasterworld had to say this, quoting somebody else:

Yahoo! and Microsoft announced an agreement that will improve the Web search experience for users and advertisers, and deliver sustained innovation to the industry. In simple terms, Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.

So everything else in this post is now moot… or… maybe waaay more important. You decide (I’m too tired).

Back to your original post:

Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Microsoft has released a new search engine. A year from now, will either of these facts affect your day to day life? The North American search market has had a pair of hands gripped firmly around its gullet ever since Google rose to prominence in the first half of the shiny new, hard to pronounce dates from, decade.

With its hundred million dollar marketing budget, one of the richest companies in the world backing it, and billions of dollars of revenue at stake, is Bing the start of an industry segmentation, of some actual diversity in the search landscape? Meh prolly not, but what do I know? Not much! That’s why I put together a horrifically flawed survey to get to the bottom of the truth barrel!

But don’t worry, I’m here to enrich your life people. I asked some industry experts to take the survey and comment on the whole Bing Shebang (wow, there has to be a better way to spell shebang, a word I swear I’ve only ever encountered in spoken form).

So what did smart people have to say? Let’s go!

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEO site in the KNOW, SEOMoz said:

– “We consult for Bing…”

Which means basically, he can’t comment – which is cool, but sadly no juicy gossip from Rand – he did take the time to fill out the survey though, so the results listed are taking his (obscured by the cloud) opinions into account.

Marc Poirier, yup, that Acquisio PPC guy, said:

– “Bing has a shot and frankly they always did – MS is one of the only companies that can legitimately think about buying its way into people’s heads with a multi-billion dollar brainwashing campaign. IMHO $100M is just a good start. Picking up Yahoo’s search advertisers and search revenue won’t hurt either.”

Gab Goldenberg, of Montreal based SEO consulting services site SEOROI said:

– “Bing needs to get big celebrities who are regarded as smart to endorse them. Eg Oprah, 60 Minutes, 20/20”

So Gab feels there is a chance at market-share being established via popular media marketing. I’m not sure I agree, but then again, how much of an impact did Oprah have on twitter? Loads likely… but is Bing innovative like twitter? Or would it just come off as a shill?

Guillaume Bouchard, CEO of NVI Solutions, marketing and web design firm said:

– “I think Bing remains the same old traditional—errr— digital dream that Microsoft has, but with a blend of whatever is trendy right now. I think it’s about time they merge with Yahoo! and start thinking about how they can compete… for real… against Google.”

Dave Davis of Dublin SEO company Red Fly Marketing said:

– “I think if Microsoft buy Yahoo and integrate the bing algo, they have a shot at taking a significant portion of Google’s search pie…”

Sylvain Carle, CTO of Praized Media the local and social search engine folks said:

– “We are moving more towards discovery than search, or at least a complementary user model where “evergreen” results are mixed with “realtime” search, with an extra social-graph induced relevancy layer… more on this from the Praized perspective“.

ahhh.. I better go read that article.

Khalid Saleh Landing Page Optimization expert said:

– “Bing needs to do few things to gain market share:

  • Focus on search and forget about all this other fluff portal stuff – (done!)
  • Needs to do an okay job at search: I love Google and they set the standard in relevance but are they really that good? (done!)
  • and it needs an amazing marketing campaign that will battle years of non-traditional Google marketing: it is not about throwing money around, it is about smart marketing. (hmm, we will see about this one)

At the end, I think Bing will capture 10% to 20% of the market in the next 10 years. “

Jim Hedger, of WebmasterRadio.FM Fame, said:

– “Me make moneyz from internetz! HUNGY HUNGY!”

Okay Jim didn’t say that, but I’m pretty sure it’s a legitimate quote from him from the last SES party (I keed I keed). If Jim gets back to me with a quote, I’ll come update the post. Yes Jim, I will go on the internet twice in one day to accommodate you.

Agustin Vazquez-Levi, Google Analytics consultant from AOD Marketing and NVI said:

– “<sarcasm>Bing? Its just a search engine. We all know those things are hard to monetize anyway. FAIL<.sarcasm>”

Rebecca Kelley, Social Media Marketing expert at 10e20 said:

– “What’s this ‘Bing’ nonsense? What the hell happened to Infoseek? Get off my lawn!”

There you have it folks, a lot of half to three-quarters baked ideas about the future of the Internet, or something. Curious what survey questions these fine people were asked to … survey, and how they answered them? Here they are, in no particular order, except that they are the same particular order every time:

1. How much longer will Google hold the title of North America’s dominant search engine?

a) 1 year
b) 2 years
c) 3-5 years
d) 5-10 years
e) The fundamental nature of the Internet will change before Google loses its stranglehold

Experts choice: 3 way tie between C, D & E

2. What are the chances of Microsoft buying, cheating or stealing their way to significant market share alongside Google in the next ten years?

a) <1%
b) <10%
c) <50%
d) >50%
e) >75%

Experts choice: D is the clear winner, with B and C tied for second

3. The world has never seen money build a prominent search engine brand, only the other way around (source, me). Advertising search has proven difficult and expensive, ask Ask. Jeeves knows it’s hard to make a search engine seem Cuil. Search engines can’t just collaborate with Timbaland. Bing has been blessed with a $100,000,000 advertising budget. What do you think it will take for Microsoft to properly deal with Google?

a) $100,000,000 should do it, if spent right. Like, give a million people a hundred dollars and ask them to use your search engine out of gratitude.
b) Give a hundred million dollars to starving Africans and ask the western world to use your search engine out of guilt.
c) Build a search engine that doesn’t have results full of spammy crap-content pages (haha, trick option! The only way to actually do this is to destroy the Google Adsense system!)
d) Create a new paradigm, a personal search and research portal customizable to the way you use the Internet, well thought out and designed, created from the ground up to exist in the cloud, open source, independent of desktops, call it Rush, or Tides, or Wav – oh shit.
e) Invest more than $100,000,000 – it’s going to take a lot more. Really.
f) Lose interest in this whole “search” thing, it’s just a fad.

Experts choice: every answer on this question got some of the vote, with option B just squeaking out A and C, who tied for second

4. Yahoo has been around since before people who can now beat me in basketball were even born, but neither Microsoft nor Google have ever bothered to buy them. They have solid search technology that they’ve built over the past few years, and an old strong brand in the search market (yes, the only other old, strong brand in the search market). What should Microsoft do?

a) Nothing, keep building the Bing brand
b) Buy Yahoo’s technology but brand it as Bing or another name
c) Buy Yahoo’s name and put $100,000,000 marketing budget behind it
d) Let Google buy Yahoo instead and concede the only other concentration of market share that exists in the known universe (of North American search engine market share, that is)

Experts choices: B is the winner here, with C coming in second, and A getting a couple of votes.

5. Home is where the heart is, and where you’re likely to start your search from. What browser home-page style is going to win?

a) One search box to rule them all – current
b) Not too personal search/news portal – a la current
c) Myspace style – left to my own devices to make a personal cesspool of a homepage
d) iGoogle style – left to some developers’ devices to create my personal Gadget and feed hell
e) A not necessarily search-centric communication style app-in-the-browser like Google Wave

Experts choice: We’ve got a two way tie between A and E.

6. Google has been all you’ve used for search since you were a child (c’mon, mentally you’ve come a long way since 2001), and even though they’ve never really actively pushed their brand on you, you’re a loyal Google searcher (obviously I know you better than you know yourself). How changeable do you think people’s search habits are when it comes to search brands?

a) Young people don’t have the same connection to Google that late-20’s early 30’s people do – they’ll switch as soon as Hanna Montanna gets her search spider crawling
b) Loyalty to search engines has never existed any more than in browsers. Any migrations in search engines will happen slowly as the result of better product alternatives, not as the result of marketing campaigns
c) A sexy marketing campaign directed at the right audience should be able to segment the market a little – if it works for everything else, why not for search? (yes, anything can be done wrong – Ask, the search engine for dumb married women)
d) The Google brand is synonymous with search and has captured a lot of every-day sticky eyeballs on its brand via products like Gmail and iGoogle, so it will be impossible to dethrone as the default mental search option in the foreseeable future

Experts choice: D is the winner here, no huge surprise, but C got a few votes, meaning some people think the nut is crackable via marketing (phhh, they must be marketers)… (oh wait, they’re all marketers).

7. Microsoft seems to have had a difficult time creating a brand to associate with search. A lot of effort has been put into the latest effort, What statement most closely resembles the branding advice you would like to give Billy G’s minions heading into 2010?

a) Keep marketing Bing as an independent branded entity, just pour money into it, it can’t go wrong, eventually people will change their homepage to it.
b) Stop marketing Bing as an independent branded entity, stop pissing money, nobody is changing their homepage. You already have a brand, use it. Make a Microsoft search engine and act like Microsoft: integrate it into every little bit of every piece of software and hardware you make, and force it upon the masses. It’s just a search box, not an app, no antitrust, learn from Google.
c) Just give up already and buy the domain, market the hell out of it as the most advanced and accurate search engine in the world, winner of multiple made-up awards, and stop wasting money on absolutely horrific domain names like bing. Hello?!? Bing?!? would have been better. Actually would have been a lot better.
d) Buy and market the domain as a sear – (okay I’ll admit I haven’t thought this one all the way through)
e) Now that you’ve finally caught up to Google in terms of search technology with the engineering behind Bing, you’re just five years behind whatever technology Google has been building for the last five years. Go and buy Wolfram Alpha this afternoon please. Then go and buy absolutely every other search company with a hint of innovative technology. Then hire away every top engineer Google has on staff by offering them millions of dollars in shiny steel briefcases, late at night, on moonlit beaches.

Experts choice: B is the winner here, with E coming in a close second. There’s people rooting for you here Microsoft. Real people, really rooting. Too much Google in your average search marketer’s life.

8. What do you expect North American Search Engine market share to look like in five years (the legendary sweaty summer of 2014)?

a) Google 98%, Yahoo 1%, Other 1%
b) Google 80%, Bing 15%, Yahoo 4%, Other 1%
c) Google 75%, Yahoo 20%, Bing 4%, Other 1%
d) Google 80%, Fancy New Player 15%, Other 5%
e) Google 30%, Bing 30%, Yahoo 30%, Other 10%
f) Google 30%, Bing 60%, Yahoo 5%, Other 5%
g) Google 20%, Yabingoo 70%, Wolfgoat Beta 10%

Experts choice: B is the stand-out winner here, with the vast majority of votes.

What do you think? Take the survey yourself and let us know.

Naoise Osborne

Naoise Osborne

A former member of the Acquisio team, Naoise was the Search Engine Marketing Director at Catalytics, the services arm of Acquisio before that was sold off so that the company could focus more on developing the Acquisio platform. In his role at Catalytics, Naoise managed SEO strategy for agencies across North America. Today, Naoise is based in Montreal where he is a founding partner of AOD Media Group Inc., which specializes in SEO, analytics and Facebook marketing.

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