ComScore Launches Search Service

ComScore Networks announced Monday the creation of qSearch, a measurement service for the search industry.

Marketers and agencies will get a better handle on search traffic patterns and the best strategy for their keyword advertising programs with qSearch, comScore said. The service will use comScore’s measurement panel of 1.5 million Internet users to cull traffic data to search engines, number of queries and average weekly searches for 25 top search engines.

Reston, Va.-based comScore hopes to tap into the red-hot search sector, forecast to grow from $2.1 billion this year to $7 billion in 2007, according to investment bank U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray.

“Search has emerged as the most important source of advertising revenue on the Internet,” said James Lamberti, comScore’s vice president of entertainment and media solutions. “By quantifying actual consumer usage of search engines for the first time, comScore qSearch represents a major step forward in helping search providers and marketers further commercialize this multi-billion dollar industry.”

The product is the latest salvo by comScore against rival Nielsen//NetRatings. Both measurement firms want to tap into emerging Internet markets, and both have unveiled Hispanic Internet panels, designed to give marketers better data on the Web habits of the growing and lucrative demographic.

In initial January rankings, qSearch ranked Google as the top search engine for English-speaking Internet users, garnering a 33 percent share of consumer searches. Yahoo! followed with 24 percent; MSN was third at 19 percent and AOL fourth at 12 percent. In just the United States, however, Yahoo! came out on top, with a 26 percent share to Google’s 23 percent.

ComScore attributes Yahoo’s! lead to its vast portal offerings. Its many channels account for half of all searches. Yahoo! has sought to capitalize on the breadth of its content offerings in its revamped Yahoo! Search, unveiled this month, which clearly takes aim at Google for the mantle of tops in search.

qSearch data show how much potential there is for Yahoo! to leverage its huge base of over 100 million registered users. In January, just 51 percent of visitors to the site searched, compared to 82 percent for Google. Searchers at Yahoo! performed an average 7.1 searches a week, compared to 9.4 for Google.

In the fight for preeminence in paid search, qSearch finds Google and Overture neck-and-neck. In January, Overture had a narrow edge, a 46.8 percent share to Google’s 46.6 percent. Google relies heavily on its own site traffic and that of its AOL partnership. Overture, which does not rely on its own destination site, has a more varied network, including MSN and Yahoo!

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