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Yahoo blames Google Instant for its decrease in market share

Demands a recount
Thu Oct 14 2010, 14:00

RARELY DO COMPANIES respond to market share reports but Yahoo felt compelled to line up excuses for its poor showing on Comscore's latest report.

The report claimed that Yahoo had suffered a marginal drop in market share in September but that Google managed to garner a relatively larger slice of the pie. In truth, the figures had put Google so far ahead that it seems pretty futile to argue over the 0.7 per cent gain that Yahoo is claiming was due to the firm releasing its Google Instant software. But that didn't stop Yahoo from rubbishing Comscore's methodology.

Yahoo's SVP of search and marketplaces, Shashi Seth decided to take his frustration out on Google Instant, the technology that displays search results as you type. Google brought out the software last month and according to Seth every time Google Instant throws up a result Comscore would count it as a complete search. So even if you are just two or three characters into your search query, Google will have chalked up a search, according to Seth.

The problem for Yahoo is that even if Comscore counts these intermediary searches, it still doesn't explain why the firm suffered a drop in market share, albeit of just 0.1 percent, and the fact that Yahoo actually served up 200 million fewer queries in September than August. Google Instant does in theory help that company increase the number of adverts it shows, though advertisers might start to question whether it is worth paying so much for adverts that are displayed for less than a second in the midst of typing out a search query.

Although Seth mainly points the finger of blame at Comscore and other search metrics firms, you don't need meticulous accounting to realise that Google has had the desktop search market all but sewn up for most of the past decade. While Yahoo decides to quibble over 0.1 percent gains or losses in market share, Google is already off trying to find the next big thing, whether it be operating systems or autonomous cars.

What Seth is really trying to do is tell potential advertisers that the firm really isn't doing as badly as everyone is reporting and if you trust him, then Yahoo is doing "extremely well". The only problem for Seth and the rest of the Yahoos is that most advertisers tend to go by their own metrics or those being reported by firms such as Comscore, so saying "trust me, I'm a marketeer" isn't really going cut the mustard.

Yahoo might have arrested its steady decline in market share by saddling up with Microsoft, but it needs to show real growth and not resort to excuses and finger pointing, especially over small shifts in market share numbers that are really indistinguishable from statistical noise, if it wants to make a real go of challenging Google. µ



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