Here’s a lesson in why one should never trust the first statistics one finds.
SearchEngineLand reports that Bing was making inroads on the search engine market in the US:
Bing has hit 20 percent market share in the US according to new data from comScore. The slow and steady gains resulting in today’s milestone have come mostly at the expense of Search Alliance partner Yahoo. Indeed the two companies have effectively traded places.
This is just one segment of one regional market, so it doesn’t mean very much. At best, this report tells us that Bing marginally improved its share in a tiny sliver of the global market.
And IMO, it actually tells us less than that.
Given how narrowly focused this Conscore data is, I felt the need to go find more complete data which would offer better context. Naturally, my thoughts turned to Statcounter.
Statcounter offers a tracking and analytics service which competes with Comscore, and what’s more Statcounter also gives much of their info away for free online. Statcounter has a handy-dandy online tool which lets you generate a graph based on its data.
For example, after I tailored the Statcounter graph so it just focused on the same limited data set as Comscore, it showed that Bing has actually lost rather than gaining market share:
Statcounter indicated that Bing had less than a 13% share, and not the 20% share reported by Comscore. Statcounter also said that Google’s share was about 10 percentage points higher than what Comscore:
So which one is right?
Neither and both.
Both are right because they do measure some parts of the market, and neither is right because they don’t actually measure the entire market.
This is a great example of why I usually tack on the adjective “estimated” when writing about market shares. No one really knows what the respective market shares really are in the real world; all we know is either what was recorded based on a limit set of data points or what a bunch of analysts estimated.
As I see it, it’s just tea leaf reading with error checking provided by a Magic 8-ball, and should be taken about that seriously.
image by blprnt_van