Microsoft Corp. has finally reached a long-sought and expensive goal – its Bing search engine now ranks second behind Google in the Internet’s most lucrative market. Bing and Microsoft’s other websites fielded 2.75 billion search requests in the U.S. during December, catapulting in front of Yahoo Inc. for the first time in the jockeying for runner up to Google Inc., according to statistics released Wednesday by comScore Inc. Bing’s December volume translated into a 15.1 percent share of the U.S. search traffic, comScore said. Yahoo processed 2.65 billion search requests, representing 14.5 percent of the U.S. market. Google remained Internet’s go-to place for information, with 12 billion U.S. requests in December. That works out to a 65.9 percent market share. Other research firms track the Internet search market. But comScore’s numbers matter the most to industry analysts and the companies trying to attract queries so they can make more money from the ads that appear alongside the results. Google’s dominance of online search is the main reason it has established itself as the Internet’s most profitable company. Analysts have expected Microsoft and Yahoo to flip-flop their positions in Internet search since they announced a partnership in July 2009. The 10-year agreement has enabled Yahoo to save money by relying on Microsoft to provide the bulk of its search technology. Microsoft wanted the deal so it would have billions more search requests to analyze each year, giving it a better chance to learn about people’s tendencies and preferences.
Call it a sign of the changing times: The Huffington Post had more unique visitors to its website than the venerable New York Times in May, outstripping the Grey Lady’s web traffic for the first time, according to data from market research firm comScore Inc. The newspaper, owned by New York Times Co., has been experimenting with a new online revenue model for two months now — a paywall that charges readers for access to more than a certain number of articles. In April, the first full month of the paywall, nytimes.com had 32.9 million unique visitors, still ahead of huffingtonpost.com’s 29.9 million. But HuffPo took the lead in May with 35.6 million unique visitors compared to 33.6 for the NYT. For the period from May 2010 to May 2011, the New York Times’ website hit a high of 38.1 unique visitors in March 2011, just before the introduction of the paywall. HuffPo — the popular online news site that offers a combination of aggregation and original reporting and recently launched a Canadian version — has yet to see those kind of numbers. In terms of newspaper websites, the Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal followed with 19.9 million, 18.4 million, and 13.9 million unique visitors respectively in May 2011, according to comScore
Google’s YouTube video service saw record levels of traffic last month, according to research firm ComScore. The web research company said that in the month of May, YouTube served up roughly 14.6 videos in the US alone, a total of more than 100 video views per person. Both numbers were monthly records for the site in a single month. In total, ComScore estimated that users in the US viewed nearly 34 billion online videos, with YouTube and other Google sites accounting for almost 43 per cent of all views. ComScore found that 183 million unique viewers watched online video in May with each user averaging 186 million views. Of the total load, Google sites claimed 144 million users and an average of 101.2 views per person. A distant second on the rankings was Hulu. The commercial video site logged roughly 1.2 billion video views to claim a 3.5 per cent market share. Microsoft was third on the list with 642 million views, followed by Vevo and Viacom Digital video services.
Although Google’s purchase of YouTube hasn’t paid of financially, it has clearly made Google a giant in the world of online video, displaying more than 13 billion videos during the month of April. On Tuesday, comScore, which monitors online usages of e-commerce, advertising and video, released its April data of video usage on the Internet. According to a company press release, 178 million United States Internet users, or 83.5 percent of the total American Internet audience, watched some form of video online during April. YouTube dwarfed other competitors, dominating the attention of 135 million Web surfers, who watched more than 13 billion videos on the service. Hulu, which offers videos from mainstream media outlets, including ABC, Fox and NBC, was a distant second streaming 958 million views during the same period. Other online video outlets included Microsoft, which offers video through it’s Zune network, showed 644 million online videos, and Viacom, which owns the MTV network, showed 384 million video views. ComScore also said that all the video viewed online during the month added up to 30.3 billion clips. The average length of these videos was a relatively short 4.4 minutes long, which comes to an astounding 253,652 years of video.
One year after its debut, the world is still not ready for Wolfram Alpha. Few would argue that despite the success of Google, Internet search is a solved problem. The way that content is being shared across it is evolving so quickly means that better ways of discovering and presenting that content will always be welcome. Wolfram Alpha certainly provides a different way to think about Internet search. It’s heavily weighted toward computational queries, and its practice of curating its results as opposed to simply serving up whatever is available on the Web means its results can be more authoritative than a list of links. But that strategy – useful as it might be to researchers and technical types- hasn’t resonated with the general public. ComScore’s assessment of unique users to wolframalpha.com over the past year shows that fewer people visited the site in April 2010 than did in May 2009. That traffic last year was undoubtedly juiced by curiosity and media attention, and usage has risen since a trough in late summer 2009, but as a search provider Wolfram Alpha doesn’t even register on ComScore’s radar. Changes are coming that might boost Wolfram Alpha’s profile among those without Ph.D.s. The company plans to make over its home page, and will start adding data for more pop-culture-friendly information such as sports, music, health information, and even its own take on local mapping. With the first anniversary, Wolfram Alpha has expanded its content. Local street maps will be available on the search engine, and – perhaps a little less useful but kind of cool – weather information for outer space.
Facebook is the fastest growing video site in the UK over the last year, according to new comScore data.
The latest comScore data reveals that during February 2010, 43 million videos were watched on Facebook – which is a 205 per cent increase on the year. Last February only 14 million videos were watched via the site. Overall online video viewing in the UK has grown by 37 per cent during the last 12 months – with 5.5 billion videos watched via websites during February 2010. Google properties, mainly driven by YouTube, were still the most popular online video destinations, recording 2.5 billion video views during February 2010, which marked a 17 per cent annual increase.
The BBC websites ranked second with 140 million videos viewed across its web properties during February 2010, and was followed by Megavideo, which recorded 53 million video views – during the same month.
Facebook came fourth in the list, closely followed by Microsoft’s collective web properties. Channel 4 came in sixth position with 39 million videos watched during February 2010 – which was a 76 per cent increase on the year. And ITV came in eighth position recording 29 million video views – which was a 134% increase on the year.
Blinkx, the popular video search engine experienced the second largest growth spurt, behind Facebook, increasing its video views by 205 per cent over the year. During February 201, 29 million videos were viewed via the site.
Sky came in 10th position, experiencing a 139 per cent increase in video views, with 20 million videos watched via its sites during February 2010.
The UK video market has grown substantially over the last year, with several aggregators entering the market, as well as the UK broadcasters increasing their own video presence. Channel 4, for instance, is concentrating on developing its own catch up service, 4oD, while signing syndication deals with the likes of YouTube, and new players, like SeeSaw.
Google is facing a preliminary anti-monopoly probe by the European Commission into its dominant position in online browsing and digital advertising following allegations that it demotes competing websites to the lower echelons of customers’ search results. The Silicon Valley internet company revealed today that the commission has sent out formal questionnaires seeking information about complaints from three firms – the British price comparison site Foundem, a French legal search engine called eJustice and a shopping site, Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft. The complaints centre on the way in which Google’s search results are compiled and on the terms and conditions the company attaches to deals with advertisers. Although the commission’s investigation is only at a tentative stage, the fact that Brussels is taking the issue seriously is likely to set off alarm bells at Google. Google handles 80 percent of European web searches, according to research firm ComScore, compared to 65 percent in the US. Google is likely to characterise the issue as an attack partly orchestrated by Microsoft, which recently merged its search business with Yahoo’s in an effort to challenge Google’s comfortable market lead
Video-sharing site YouTube is taking its first steps into the online movie rental business.
The fledgling service will go live on 22 January. Initially only five films will be available to rent. The movies will come from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance Film Festival and will only be available in the US. The move for the Google owned company represents a major for the site which has been looking for ways to boost its bottom line.
“This is a huge move for YouTube in the sense of them trying to monetise the site,” Mike McGuire, principal analyst at Gartner Research told BBC News. “This certainly opens the door for them with bigger movie studios.” Content providers will be able to set their own prices, with YouTube taking a cut of the revenue. All but one of the Sundance films is being offered for $3.99 (£2.50) each for users to watch over a 48-hour viewing period.
The site which is best known for its user-generated content, including dogs on skateboards and performing cats, said 20 hours of video is uploaded every minute. Last August, Comscore reported that over 10 billion videos were streamed on YouTube.
Industry insiders say this first step into online rental is a curtain-raiser for more ambitious pay-per-view plans.
It is expected that in the near future the site will expand its rental catalogue with television shows and feature films from major studios. “Content is king in this kind of business and Sundance is a good first step,” said Mr McGuire.
“Negotiating with the major studios over distribution rights however is not for the faint hearted. Google has to perfect its delivery model and its billing system.” YouTube already offers full-length films from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s archives. It is expected similar deals like this will emerge in the coming weeks and months and extend to newer movies. In its blog, YouTube hinted at that possibility.
“In the coming weeks we’ll also invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new option.” Some industry watchers say YouTube has had a tough time in the past persuading the studios to part with their crown jewels such as newly released movies and Hollywood blockbusters.
“YouTube has had little luck over the last several years wooing major studios and networks to stream premium content on the site, which would make it easier to draw advertising,” said Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times. “Most studios have instead opted to put their content on Hulu, a joint venture of NBC Universal, News Corp and Walt Disney that has had more success luring marketers.”
Analysts point out that the pay-per-view movie offering will put YouTube in direct competition with other services including Apple’s iTunes store, Amazon.com and Microsoft’s XBox Live. The first five films for rent are “The Cove,” “Bass Ackwards,” “One Too Many Mornings,” “Homewrecker” and “Children of Invention.” The Sundance film festival runs until 31 January
Wikipedia is the fifth most popular web property in the world, logging 344 million unique visitors last month, according to figures from comScore Media Metrix
However, a report in The Wall Street Journal this week claimed that the site is losing huge numbers of the ‘editors’ who write the topic entries.
The report said that Wikipedia had lost 49,000 editors in the first three months of 2009, a full 10 times as many as it did in the first three months of 2008, when it lost 4,900 editors.
The newspaper then went on to speculate about the reasons for the wholesale desertions, suggesting that editors often feel exasperated when asked to debate the content of articles time and time again.
However, Wikipedia has claimed that the numbers quoted in the report are not accurate because they are taken from research that measures when an individual Wikipedia editor starts editing and when they stop.
“It is impossible to make a determination that a person has left and will never edit again. There are methodological challenges with determining the long-term trend of joining and leaving,” said the company in a blog post
“Studying the number of actual participants in a given month shows that Wikipedia participation as a whole has declined slightly from its peak two and a half years ago, and has remained stable since then.
“The number of articles in Wikipedia keeps growing. There are about 14.4 million articles in Wikipedia, with thousands of new ones added every day.”
The company explained that it now has a “usability initiative”, which aims to make it easier to contribute to Wikipedia and its sister projects by improving the underlying open-source technology, and an “outreach initiative” that will help recruit new volunteers.
“Removing barriers is key to recruiting new editors,” Wikipedia said.
Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company’s being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.
The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage
However, the Financial Times has learnt that Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google’s search engine. News Corp and Microsoft, which owns the rival Bing search engine, declined to comment.
One website publisher approached by Microsoft said that the plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them”. Microsoft’s interest is being interpreted as a direct assault on Google because it puts pressure on the search engine to start paying for content.
“This is all about Microsoft hurting Google’s margins,” said the web publisher who is familiar with the plan. But the biggest beneficiary of the tussle could be the newspaper industry, which has yet to construct a reliable online business model that adequately replaces declining print and advertising revenues.
In a possible sign of negotiations to come, Google last week played down the importance of newspaper content. Matt Brittin, Google’s UK director, told a Society of Editors conference that Google did not need news content to survive. “Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue,” he said.
News Corp has been exploring online payment models for its newspapers and has taken an increasingly hard line against Google. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chairman, has said that he would use legal methods to prevent Google “stealing stories” published in his papers.
Microsoft is desperate to catch Google in search and, after five years and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses, Bing, launched in June, marks its most ambitious attempt yet. Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, has said that the company is prepared to spend heavily for many years to make Bing a serious rival to Google.
Microsoft has sought to differentiate Bing by drawing in material not found elsewhere, though has not demanded exclusivity from content partners. Bing accounted for 9.9 per cent of searches in the US in October, up from 8.4 per cent at its launch, according to ComScore. James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp Europe and Asia, hinted last week that the company was making progress with its online plans. “We think that there’s a very exciting marketplace, potentially a wholesale market place for digital journalism that we’ll be developing,” he said