One thing Microsoft and Yahoo were touting as a major advantage to them teaming up, is that their search scale will grow tremendously. The benefit of the search scale, or search volume query, growing is that Microsoft and Yahoo will have more data to analyze and use in order to compete against Google.
News.com interviewed Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian on this topic. Varian called that logic “bogus,” saying that search scale does little, on a statistical base, to help improve search quality. Varian explained why in three points:
- Statistically, Varian said, that there is a “small statistical point that the accuracy with which you can measure things as they go up is the square root of the sample size.” Meaning, statistically, more data at this level, doesn’t really change how you measure things.
- Queries at all search engines are growing approximately 40 percent a year. So there is a huge increase in search scale, even without this deal.
- When Google tests quality and other factors, they do so on 1 percent or 0.5 percent, that is all they need to measure on. So Microsoft or Yahoo can increase that sample percentage size to 2 percent, if they like, and get similar data back.
These are extremely interesting points that I personally did not think about, but indeed make a lot of sense. If you think about it, Microsoft has about 5% share (approximating) and Yahoo has about 20% search share. Microsoft grew tremendously with this, but if Varian is right, then that growth is not as significant, in terms of quality, as Microsoft wants us all to believe.