Bing Gets Slight Search Ratings Bounce

The latest comScore search rankings show Microsoft’s Bing search engine is making a little headway in its battle with market leaders Google and Yahoo based on results for June.

But the report by comScore indicates Microsoft made a slight gain at Yahoo’s expense, not Google’s, for figures that cover search queries in the U.S.

Google’s share for June stayed steady at 65 percent, while Yahoo, at 19.6, took a slight dip about equal to Bing’s gain. Bing’s share was eight percent in May, and bumped to 8.4 percent in June, according to comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR).

“Bing has had an initial positive impact on Microsoft’s search position. However, one thing is clear: Closing the gap with its competitors won’t happen overnight,” comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman said in a blog post Wednesday.

“Marketing will certainly help generate more trial, but ultimately the product’s biggest opportunity is to capture a higher share of usage among the 41%+ of searchers that are now using Microsoft but only for a portion of their monthly searches. This will ultimately depend on improved user experience, particularly relative to competitors,” he wrote.

The news comes as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) pushes to break into a more relevant, double digit ranking in search market share. The software giant launched Bing late in May and has promoted it heavily, including print, TV and Internet advertising campaigns.

June was the first full month Bing has been publicly available and Lipsman indicated the July figures will be a good indicator as to whether the Microsoft search engine is maintaining and building the kind of the customer loyalty it needs to make headway versus Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO).

In a commentary on the results sent to its investment clients, Barclays Capital said it had expected Bing to do better with an increase in share to between 10-11 percent. “As a result, we believe the search data is a slight positive for both Google and Yahoo.”

As other analysts have noted, Barclays Capital said Bing faces the challenge of getting users to change their habit of, in this case, relying on Google (and to a lesser extent Yahoo) as their primary search engine. But it lauded Microsoft for being “better positioned in search than it has been in many years” with a more competitive product and “clearer brand positioning.”

The firm also noted Microsoft stands to gain from new distribution deals for Bing with Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), HP (NYSE: HPQ), Lenovo and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

FBR Capital Markets noted in an e-mail report to clients that comScore’s results show strong year-over-year growth in June for search, driven by Google (up 28.7 percent).

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