ComScore Broadens Search Measurement

Market research provider comScore this week updated its qSearch 2.0 measurement service to dramatically expand the number and kinds of properties being measured.

Besides the usual measurement of traffic to major search engines, this expansion now brings in additional measurement of the top 50 most-trafficked sites where search activity is observed. This includes many social media sites, portals, and e-commerce sites where search plays an integral role in their site or the site itself plays a role in the search landscape.

New sites being measured include eBay, Amazon, Expedia, and MySpace. qSearch will also begin counting partner search behavior, such as queries done on affiliate partners that lead to a search engine’s results pages. It also will include local search sites like maps, directions, and local directory listings.

“This allows us to take a more comprehensive view of search, and report on some sites that people wouldn’t consider as classic search engines,” said James Lamberti, SVP of search and media at comScore. “Basically, we can track any open query data anywhere on the Web. That can include things like map searches, Internet Yellow Pages, or job searches.”

The expansion to include the top 50 Web properties has another effect, according to Lamberti: it takes the onus away from comScore to determine what should be categorized as “search,” he said.

The new data will be reported separately, so clients that want to consider it can include it in their reports, and those that do not want to include it can ignore it. The move opens up the market for comScore to begin providing data to new clients among the top 50 sites. It also sets comScore up to be ready to report on vertical markets for existing clients, Lamberti said.

In addition, qSearch now also includes new geographic areas, with an expansion from a U.S.-centric measurement model to a truly global one, Lamberti said. qSearch now offers individual country reporting for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., France, Germany, Japan, China, and Korea. Additional countries will follow.

ComScore will continue to report market share rankings for the top five search engines – Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask and AOL. That report will be its “core search” report. To keep this metric consistent with past reporting, searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five search engines will not be included in the “core search” numbers.

The July core search numbers, reported today, show that Google still maintains its dominant share with 5.4 billion queries, or 55.2 percent of searches, up 19.5 percent year-to-year. Yahoo remains in second with 2.3 billion queries, or 23.5 percent of searches, down 21.1 percent over last year’s 29.8 percent share. Microsoft remained steady with 1.1 million queries, at 12.3 percent of share, and Ask dipped by 6 percent from 5 percent to 4.7 percent of searches. Time Warner sites, including AOL dipped slightly from a 6.6 percent share of searches to 4.4 percent.

When the report is expanded to include more sites, as well as the non-core sections of core search sites, the list changes slightly. Google, with YouTube added (6.6 billion queries), Yahoo (2.5 billion queries)and Microsoft (1.25 billion queries) still top the list, but Time Warner, with the inclusion of MapQuest, jumps to third place with 436 million queries, followed by non-core search sites Fox Interactive Media, including MySpace, with 587 million queries, and eBay with 472 million queries. Ask is next with 462 million queries, followed by Craiglist with 185 million queries, Amazon with 151 million queries, and InfoSpace with 56 million queries in July.

“I feel that the next year or two will be watershed years for the industry. We’ve grown up with a direct response mentality. Now we need to consider how it interacts with other media,” Lamberti said.

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