In a release out today, comScore is reporting on traffic and its distribution to various local search and Internet yellow pages sites. Yahoo is pronounced the market leader, with a 22.4 percent share of all “IYP searches.” The company’s local search leadership, according to comScore has been consistent since comScore started tracking the category. However, other sites showed dramatic percentage growth.
comScore reports the traffic data by query volume, market share and engagement. Each of those tables is below.
In a nutshell, these data suggest that competition has moderately eroded the hold that leaders Yahoo and SuperPages have on the market. They also show YellowPages.com’s network and Yellow Book (owned by Yell in the UK) as the highest percentage gainers in query volume. SuperPages is the engagement leader followed by Yahoo.
There’s a curious discrepancy, however, between these data and data released last year by comScore for the “local search” as opposed to “IYP” category. Here’s what the July, 2006 data reflect in terms of market share:
In the newer data, Google’s share, for example, is less than half of the market-leading share it enjoyed in the July, 2006 report. Putting aside any semantic distinctions between “IYP” and “local search,” comScore must have adjusted its methodology and/or definitions. In Google’s case, the July, 2006 data may well include local searches performed on Google.com vs. searches originating exclusively in Google Maps.
Clearly we’re not getting an “apples to apples” comparison between July, 2006 and the data released today.
The explanation for the dramatic percentage growth of YellowPages.com is apparently the inclusion of traffic from searches performed on Switchboard.com (owned by InfoSpace), which is a traffic partner. The reason for Yellow Book’s growth is probably two-fold: the relaunch of a much better website and a national ad campaign.
comScore previously (9/06) stated that “local search” (previously defined as IYP, local search engine or map-based queries and geo-modifiers used on general search engines) constituted 13 percent of overall search volume. It reported monthly local queries at 849 million vs. 6.5 billion general search queries. It’s now reporting 808 million local/IYP queries compared with overall volume of 7.3 billion searches in April, 2007.
Using those figures, IYP/local search constitutes 11 percent of overall query volume today (a conservative number that underestimates actual local search volumes). That percentage decrease is straightforwardly attributable to larger absolute numbers in general search vs. smaller numbers and slower growth in IYP/local search according to the comScore data.
These data are valuable and quite interesting (although I wish there was more consistency with the July, 2006 report). Yet I believe comScore’s definition of local search is too narrow and doesn’t really reflect actual user intent and real-world consumer behavior.