So how has the initial media blitz impacted MSN's share? We have some interesting numbers to share. It appears that the quantity of traffic has not increased markedly, but the quality has, and it may be Google's best shoppers who are checking out the competition.
You may have heard hyperventilation to wit: Bing overtakes Yahoo! That turns out to be a gross overstatement, and a marvelous example of why it's dangerous to extrapolate from small sample sets.
Here's what we've seen so far in terms of PPC ads, the financial engine that drives the engines.
Remembering that Bing went live at the very end of May, beginning of June there are a couple of really interesting trends that leap off the page.
- Totally unrelated to the Bing launch: Check out the weekend effect! Again, this is a percentage of totals, not a measure of absolute volume. It suggests that MSN gets a materially larger share of traffic during the work week than it does on the weekend. Does this mean people use MSN more frequently at work because it's the default search engine for IE? Left to their own devises on the weekends, they choose Google/Yahoo even more often? Fascinating!
- The Percentage of Total PPC Sales from the Big three coming through Bing increased substantially over MSN live, much more so than did costs, clicks or impressions. This could indicate better targeting logic, or that the folks giving Bing a test drive are decidedly higher quality prospects.
If we look more carefully into who's losing the share of sales that Bing appears to have gained the answer is clearly not Yahoo. In fact Yahoo and MSN both seem to have benefited from MSN's PR campaign. Not surprisingly the engine of choice for 'early adopters' -- Google -- is the one seeing its user base sniff out the competition.
With respect to Bing, the initial uptick in the quality of traffic is quite encouraging. Higher Sales per Click will lead to higher bids and more monetary share for MSN. The fact that despite the media blitz surrounding the launch, the impression share and click traffic share hardly moved is somewhat more concerning. If consumers are truly happier buying through Bing it could give MSN some momentum, but they can't just rely on the early adopters and search geeks. They need to pull in and keep the average Joe as well.
As Lance Loveday points out, Bing has a steep hill to climb and it's not clear that the media approach they've taken is going to do the job.
We'll keep an eye on the trends. MSN has finally given us something to write about!
A follow up post, eliminating trademark search and controlling for a couple other factors paints a very different picture.