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
Ask.com, the Internet search engine owned by IAC/InterActive Corp, is seeking some human help answering web surfers’ questions. The company has begun testing a new service that lets users of its search engine submit questions to other Ask.com visitors, tapping into the powerful social networking trends that are increasingly gaining popularity on the Web. The new service represents a striking shift for the company, which like most Internet search engines has long sought to distinguish itself based on the brawn of its computer algorithms. But with only 3.6 percent share of the U.S. search market in June according to analytics firm comScore, Ask.com is looking for ways to differentiate itself from rivals Google Inc, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp. The new “Ask the Community” feature means the company will be able to provide specific answers to a greater portion of the search queries it receives, instead of simply displaying links to relevant web pages, explained Doug Leeds, President of Ask.com U.S.The service routs questions to other Ask.com users with expertise on various subjects and is particularly useful for subjective search queries which Leeds said can stymie traditional, algorithm-based search engines. Leeds said he expected that the new service will increase overall searching on Ask.com, as people turn to its traditional search engine to find more information about products and other items that are recommended by people through the Q&A service.
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.
Flickr has given a makeover to the layout of its site’s photo display page, making the default picture size larger, revamping the navigation scheme and consolidating capabilities and information under fewer menus and sections. The overall goal of the changes is to improve the photo-sharing experience and approximate it as much as possible to the real-life scenario of showing friends or family one’s latest pictures in person, said Tara Kirchner, head of marketing at Flickr. Users will find that photo metadata, such as the photographer’s name, the camera’s make and model, the picture location and the time it was taken, is now more prominently displayed. The navigation controls have been rearranged to make it easier for people to flip through photos, geotag them and access other albums, photo sets and groups. Some key capabilities have been packaged under a new Actions menu, including the ability to add tags and notes, identify a person, and place the photo in a specific gallery. Flickr, owned by Yahoo for the past five years, drew 85.6 million unique visitors and almost 200 million visits in May, according to comScore. The site has 50 million registered members, who upload about 3 million photos and videos every day, according to Yahoo. There are 4 billion photos and videos stored on Flickr.
Messaging, commenting, blogging, sharing and “liking” now fill up 22 percent of all time spent online each month, according to Nielsen, a market research firm. Nielsen published statistics on Tuesday saying that people spend one in every four and a half minutes of their online time on a social network or blog. The study says that this is the first time social networks or blogs are “visited by three-quarters of global consumers who go online.” This number has also increased 24 percent since the same time last year. In addition, Web users spent almost six hours during the month of April on social sites, versus 3 hours, 30 minutes during April of last year. The most popular social brands online are Facebook and YouTube. In Brazil, the list includes Orkut, a social networking site owned by Google. Last week, comScore reported that Web users were watching 13 billion videos on YouTube a month. Facebook also said that its users were watching 2 billion videos each month. According to the Nielsen report, Facebook managed to steal the show in terms of global time spent online. Its nearly half a billion users spend six hours a month there. Facebook also proved to be the most popular social site in Italy. Two-thirds of Italian Web users visit the site each month. Brazil seems to be the most socially connected country, with 86 percent of its Web users visiting a social network for an average of five hours a month. And Australians spend the most time on social sites, racking up an average of 7 hours 20 minutes in April
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.
More people go to newspapers Web sites for complete local information than any other source, according to a new survey from the Newspaper Association of America and comScore. Of the more than 3,000 adults surveyed, 57 percent chose newspaper Web sites as the top source for local information. The survey was conducted by comScore in November 2009 and is based on a nationally representative sample of adults who use Web sites within the comScore panel. However, the survey reveals that the competition is moving in. While 57 percent of identified newspapers as the top source of local information, 54 percent cited online portals while 53 percent went with local TV web sites. The respondents also rely more on portals for local information (31 percent) followed by local newspaper Web sites (23 percent)and local TV Web sites (22 percent). Newspapers have a tiny lead when it comes to being the most trust worthy local source. Thirty-three percent said newspaper sites while 32 percent said local TV Web sties. The source used most often by respondents by content type? Newspaper Web sites had only 30 percent of the vote for local news versus 31 percent for local TV sites. Newspaper Web sites bested other sources for local classifieds: 39 percent of respondents look to newspapers Web sites for that category – far and away more than the next source, specialty Web sites at 14 percent. Even when asked which source is most credible for local news, 35 percent said newspapers. Thirty-two percent said local TV. Newspapers easily won that contest with classifieds: 43 percent of those surveyed said newspapers are the most credible source for classifieds. On the advertising front, more people trust newspaper Web sites — 36 percent — than any other source including local TV (23 percent).
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