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November ComScore Data Suggest PC Search Volume May Have Peaked
Yesterday comScore released its November search market share data. The distribution and trends are consistent with what has been happening over the past several months: Google is stable, Bing has gained incrementally, Yahoo lost some share (mostly to partner Bing) and the others have gained or lost a fraction of a point.
Stepping back, comScore said that across the web in November “69.4 percent of searches carried organic search results from Google, while 25.4 percent of searches were powered by Bing (up 0.4 percentage points).” Thus there’s clearly a “duopoly” in search: Google and Bing.
The discussion of search market share won’t get interesting again unless (or perhaps until) Facebook enters search in some more formal way. What’s more interesting to explore and consider now is whether PC search query volumes have peaked. It appears they have.
ComScore’s data about total search query volume shows a decline from October to November, which happened last year as well.
In October 2011 “explicit core search queries” were 18.07 billion. In November 2012 there were more than a billion fewer queries.
Without carefully going through historical data it’s hard to definitively say that search volumes have stopped growing. But that’s how it appears. Tablets may add incrementally to “PC” search queries but we don’t yet know if that’s the case.
Smartphone-based queries and lookups are cannibalizing PC search to some degree. For example, map-based queries on mobile now exceed those on the PC for Google, according to data not publicly released by comScore. However comScore has said that PC-based map search is “eroding” and shifting to mobile:
In the past six months alone, according to comScore Mobile Metrix, the number of smartphone visitors to Maps websites and apps has jumped 24% to 92 million unique visitors – a monthly penetration of 83% among smartphone users . . .
Searches with a Mapping/Navigation intent on the Big 5 Engines are down 34% over the past 15 months, going from 74.8 million to 49.5 million in August. comScore Search Planner shows that search clicks to Map/Navigation sites show an even steeper decline, down 41% to just 55.2 million in August.
All this is partly why it’s critical for Google to have a strong presence on the iPhone, in addition to Android. But if PC search has in fact reached some sort of ceiling the implications are fairly profound for Google and perhaps online ad revenues as a whole.