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Are web surfers that use Bing more susceptible to advertising? If they are — and continue using the search engine — that could be very good news for Microsoft.
A new study by search-advertising network Chitika found that Bing users clicked on an ad 1.5% of the time on average, versus a 0.97% clickthrough rate for Google visitors and a 1.24% clickthrough rate for Yahoo.
If that means Microsoft and Yahoo users pay more attention to advertising, it could be very good news for the smaller search engines. But it could also spell trouble for both if users are simply switching between the two services depending on which has the best advertising at any given moment.
Chitika looked through 32 million ad impressions across its network of more than 50,000 sites during a week in July to get its findings.
Even though Bing and Yahoo occupy a smaller percentage of the search pie, enticing users who like advertising could be a boon. Advertisers are willing to pay a premium to post their products in locations more readily viewed by consumers. But brand friendly web searchers may also be fickle search users.
Considering the ad dollars Microsoft is investing in search, it makes sense that Bing would attract consumers susceptible to advertising. Since launching Bing this Spring, Microsoft has been rolling out a $100 million ad campaign to win users to the service. The search engine has made modest gains since then, but it makes sense that the users coming to Bing from a display ad elsewhere would be more susceptible to advertising on their search engine of choice.
Furthermore, Bing and Yahoo might simply be swapping users, which could be a bad thing for both.
Microsoft has an 8.4% share of the online search market, compared to Yahoo's almost 20% and Google's 65%. Microsoft's current Bing campaign works plays up the problems with the current methods of search online, implying that Google isn't the only company working to improve search.
But according to the Washington Post, the share gains that Bing has made of late have come not at Google's expense but Yahoo's. Bing made a modest 0.4% gain in search query volume to 8.4% in June according to ComScore. But while Google's marketshare remained steady at 65%, Yahoo's dropped 0.5% to 19.6% from May.
The fact that Google's dominance has remained steady in that time could mean the overlap between Yahoo search and Bing is simply a subset of users who click more indiscriminately — and will continue to do so.
There has been talk lately that Yahoo and Microsoft may join forces on search to compete with Google as soon as this week. Pooling their energies, advertising and otherwise, could be a large boon in competing with Google. As long as they can find some Googlers who are susceptible to advertising as wel.