The Nielsen Company reports that Microsoft's Bing has just barely exceeded Yahoo Search in U.S. market share. Google continues as top dog, but Bing's showing some growth, while Yahoo's fading ever so slightly.
While Nielsen's numbers rate a short perusal, the drama unfolding behind the scenes shows a much larger shift than the numbers would have you believe. Here's the rest of the story.
Search engine market share numbers run all over the place, with different sites moving up and down a fraction of a percentage point every month. The terminology and methodology vary, but Nielsen pegs Google's U.S. market share in August at 65.1 percent, comScore puts Google's U.S. July market share at 65.8 percent, and Hitwise shows Google's U.S. August share at 71.59 percent -- yes, to two decimal places.
Nielsen says that Yahoo lost a considerable amount of market share in a month, falling from 14.3 percent share in July to 13.1 percent in August. Conversely, MSN/Windows Live/Bing went from 13.6 percent in July to 13.9 percent in August. Thus, the headline that Bing has overtaken Yahoo.
No big deal. Why? Bing and Yahoo numbers don't matter. They're smoke 'n' mirrors, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. According to an agreement that took effect Aug. 24, Bing (with a few small exceptions) is now the search engine behind Yahoo. As Nielsen says, "If we combined Bing-powered search in August pro-forma, it would represent a 26 percent share of search."