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Bing Bumps Microsoft's Search Share in Its First Week

Microsoft's newly released "decision" engine Bing pushed Microsoft Sites' market share up in its first full week, according to numbers released today by Internet audience gauge comScore. Preliminary numbers have been positive for Bing, which briefly overtook Yahoo as the No. 2 search during its initial seven days online. Microsoft Sites—which includes Live Search, the service Bing is replacing—took just over 9% of total search results pages during the period of May 26 to 30 (Bing debuted Thursday, May 28). That number climbed 2% last week to 11.1% following Bing's first full week live.

Bing also improved Microsoft Sites' penetration numbers last week to 15.5% from 13.8% the week before, suggesting Bing is reaching a larger audience than Live Search was previously. One week is not a long enough period from which to draw long-term conclusions, but that hasn't slowed the Bing buzz.

"These initial data suggest that Microsoft Bing has generated early interest, resulting in a spike in search engagement and an immediate term improvement to Microsoft's position in the search market," said Mike Hurt, comScore senior vice president, in a statement. "So far it appears that the lifts in searcher penetration and engagement have held relatively steady throughout the five-day period."

Of course, the critical question facing Microsoft is whether Bing can continue to gain market share over time. The company has launched an advertising blitz, reportedly in excess of $80 million, stressing the shortcomings of "search overload" and mocking the free-association jumble of responses often returned by search queries. These ads are expected to give way to spots that focus on the areas where Bing plans to carve a niche, like travel and shopping. If Microsoft's numbers only prove sustainable alongside a massive marketing push, it may have trouble remaining competitive on a field with Google, which spends virtually nothing advertising its search capabilities.

But these early numbers are still relevant; while Bing's strong debut could be chalked up to users taking Bing for a test drive, the steady penetration and engagement across the first five days suggests at least some of those who tried Bing came back, and that's the idea. As Hurt noted, "the ultimate performance of Bing depends on the extent to which it generates more trial through its extensive launch campaign and whether it retains those trial users." Time will tell if Bing's success is sustainable, but the first week looks promising.

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