Search in AU = Game over?

Ben Shepherd writes:  Right now I am doing some significant activity across search for a client and it’s working pretty damn well. In fact as I write this I’m about to send some campaign analysis to the client.

I have noticed that the traffic we are generating from Google is approximately 20x that we are generating from Yahoo! Search Marketing.

It got me thinking … does anyone use Yahoo search or MSN search? I asked 60 people over the course of 2 weeks … no one had used MSN or Yahoo! Most didn’t even realise MSN had search, and many had abandoned Yahoo years ago for Google.

So then I had a look in Nielsen. I’d estimated last year I thought Google had about 90%+ of the market here in Oz, which was a mix of gut feel and direct experience with SEM components of digital comms I’d worked on.

What Nielsen told me (Netview, December 2008) was that Google has 95% of search share in AU. Yahoo!7 and MSN battle it out over the other 5% coming in about even.

Between all 3 they account for 754,380,000 page views. Google represents 712, 665,000 of these.

Between the 3 when you unduplicate the audience, the combined audience is 9.9m … Google alone has 9.52m so there’s only 380k people who have used a search engine in December who didn’t use Google.

So lets check engagement … Google users return 13.3 times a month … Yahoo! 3.36 and MSN 2.98. Google users spend 27 minutes on Google search alone … msn 4 minutes, Yahoo just under 6.

We all knew Google was dominant – however their dominance just keeps on getting stronger.

Now with MSN it must be said that it appears in AU search is very much a secondary concern. However, Yahoo! are really trying to push their search product and it’s just not sticking with users.


Liam writes:  Ben I do love you so, but that post was always going to get me to respond. Yes google is a great search engine.

But, and it is  a big but, you will need to point me at a successful monopoly that exists in perpetuity without government regulation. Show me and I will buy you lunch anywhere you want.

Search existed before Google. It will exist after google.

Game over???? When I entered advertising ,George Patts was number one by a mile. Now look.

Chrysler? IBM?Fosters? McDonalds? 

Before Google there was looksmart? altavista?

Google is fantastic but…………. gameover? No such thing. The world doesn’t like a monopoly. It really is that simple.


7 responses to “Search in AU = Game over?

  1. Great Post!

    It’s so true, i used to work in search marketing in the UK and MSN and Yahoo did drive decent volumes but way below Google….
    Having come to Australia i can see that MSN haven’t even bothered to launch their search product in this marketplace and we barely even recommend running search on Yahoo! and with those numbers why would we?

  2. Couple of things here:

    For SEM: I’ve often noticed that there is also a distinct difference in the users.

    IE – people who use Google, most likely comfortable with internet, experienced in researching – therefore know a good/bad deal when the see it and will buy online.

    People who use MSN or Y! are less skilled at research, less likely to buy online and more likely to make a phone call – but at a greater price, therefore higher revenue per item.

    From an SEO perspective, for smaller businesses – it’s also sometimes beneficial to JUST focus on MSN / Yahoo instead of Google.

    100% of people want to be in the top 10 results of Google, so they all try hard optimizing ONLY for Google. Unfortunately there is only room for 10 of them.

    Very few people focus on MSN/Yahoo optimization.

    So, if (not looked at recent stats) Goog has 70% share of the market and MSN 20%… sometimes its beneficial to get in the top 10 of MSN’s 20% over that of getting no-where on Goog’s 70% when you are just looking to get some fast results.

  3. talkingdigital

    fair points liam … i guess i moreso meant I can’t see any of the current competitors here making up any more ground on the goog.

  4. talkingdigital

    thanks for the post chris

    in my experience what i’ve found is yahoo/overture costs are always higher than goog … traffic it sends through is of less quality (which could be due to reluctance to buy online)

  5. Have to agree with Liam on this one, Ben. The current economic meltdown demonstrates that often what we view as unassailable orthodixy and ‘the end of history’ ain’t neccessarily so. Beyonf governments, the markets themselves don’t generally like monopolys. Right now it’s hard to see anyone challenging, let alone overtaking, Google, but the wheel turns. It’s very ricky to declare the game as over no matter how dominant the product. My god, there was even a time when the Magpies once seemed an unbeatable power…..
    That being said, you’re certainly right on the extent to which Google virtually make redundant all other search competitors in this market. Didn’t we hear something less that 12 months ago about Yahoo! looking to focus on it’s search and really challenge Google in that field?? Still waiting on that one. We may be waiting a while.

  6. Google’s too far ahead for any of the current players to catch up. Neither MS or Y! would be able to hire the kinds of people who would be needed to challenge Google in search; they simply wouldn’t work there, for any amount of money.

    However, increasingly, the types of people who have kept Google so far in front don’t want to work for Google any more. They’re off working for other (or their own) startups, trying to build the next paradigm in search.

    So, I agree with Ben that it’s game over for search as we currently know it. But as Liam points out, no company is #1 forever.

    The Google-beater will not be any company we currently know about, and it will quite possibly take the form of a new style of search that we currently can’t really visualise.

  7. I think we all agree that over time monopolistic positions change. The question is how long will it take. In the search category in this market it’s going to take a long, long time. Why?

    Search is an infrastructure play – you can’t be great at it unless you have access to large data centres. Many think that Google has in excess of one million servers in its data centres and is adding an additional 100,000 units/quarter. I’ve heard people in Microsoft talk about how they think that Microsoft will win over Yahoo in search because Yahoo will not have the capex capabilities to compete. If it is hard for Yahoo it is going to be very hard for the innovators.

    It’s also more than Search. Sure Google = Search. For many Google now also equals Maps or Email or my RSS Reader. Because of these levels of engagement to switch a search user you have to deliver a solution or engage significantly better than Google. You could argue that Yahoo’s position in the late 90’s was similar and they lost however Google have learnt from Y’s mistake. In my days at Yahoo! I remember hearing Yahoo staffers publicly state yahoo wasn’t a search company (circa 1999-2000). Why? Yahoo didn’t want to be pigeon holed as a search company back then – the portal / commerce opportunities looked to be broader. When we hear Google staffers say they are not a search business we might see the landscape change.

    Australia counts most to Google. Australia is a star for Google and interesting for Y! & MSN. Y! & MSN have significantly smaller teams focussed on the search products here and changing the local landscape in that position in nigh impossibly. It will be a US or global swing that changes the Australian share stats – not locally led initiatives.

    I’m not saying I’m happy with this. As a marketer the lack of competition affects me. As a previous Y! staffer and Head of Search it crushes me and as a Y! shareholder it frustrates the hell out of me. I just don’t see the search share stats changing in any significant way any time soon.

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