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Bing Surges: Google buys TV ads

Danny Sullivan wondered aloud as to why Google spent big money on a Superbowl ad. The latest numbers from comScore and RKG might answer that question. According to one industry observer, comScore is about to release numbers indicating Bing's share has jumped 0.6% in the last month and a half, while Google and Yahoo each lost 0.3%. Now share of search volume and share of advertising revenue (factoring in syndication partners) are different animals, but from our data, comScore may be under-reporting the shift. These data are aggregated so our higher spend clients dominate the results. We'll take this apart to study medians later. MSN/Bing's growth from 5.3% in February of 2009, to 9.0% in February to date is highly impressive. Where much of that growth seemed to come at the expense of Yahoo early on after Bing's launch, January and February show Google starting to feel the heat. Google's share of paid search advertising dollars dropped from almost 81% in December to under 78% in the first week + of February. Questions abound:
  • Did Google buy a Superbowl ad because they're seeing erosion of paid search share?
  • Is Bing's growth solely a function of Cashback, and is Cashback financially sustainable for them?
  • While we and others have criticized Bing's commercials, are they starting to have an impact?
  • Has Google been distracted by all its other endeavors and taken its eye off its core product?
  • Is there something screwy in our data that we haven't accounted for?
Given that I pulled the data myself the odds of the last question being salient aren't bad. One of our far more careful, thoughtful, judicious analysts will probably "tut, tut" me later. Folks who budget search, and go so far as to budget by engine, might cause a shift in share simply by executive decision. But that's not what we see in our data. Our clients don't budget for the most part and don't budget by engine at all. We're spending more on Bing because the quantity and value of the traffic dictates spending more. Paid search is only one piece of the advertising mix for Google, but it is a big piece. If this trend continues expect to see some refocusing from Google. Love to hear if others are seeing similar trends!
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