ComScore Stops Counting Automated Searches on Yahoo and Bing

A few months ago quite a fuss was made over automated searches introduced by both Yahoo and Bing which were counted as regular searches, leading to inflated market share numbers that had little relevance to advertisers and other people with interest in the market.

comScore, one of the biggest analytics companies warned about the problems with the market share numbers reported and said a fix will be in place after the second quarter, to keep the monthly reports consistent over the same quarter.

[T]he search market continues to evolve with new implementations of search moving beyond the traditional search box and into the context of the browsing experience as the user engages with non-search content,” comScore’s Cameron Meierhoefer explains.

We called these searches ‘contextual searches’ because they are originated in the context of other browsing behavior without explicit intent on the part of the user to conduct a search query,” he explained.

While search engines need to evolve and adapt, searches done automatically can’t be counted alongside the searches that involve user interaction.

[W]e will begin reporting an additional view of our U.S. Core Search data known as ‘Explicit Core Search’ alongside our standard Core Search market reporting. comScore defines ‘Explicit Core Search’ as user engagement with a search service with the intent to retrieve search results,” comScore announced.

The matter is not as clear cut as it may seem and the analytics company is not taking a very dramatic stance. Instead, it will continue to release the regular core search numbers, but will also provide the explicit core search market share to provide context.

One example of a “contextual search” is on Yahoo News. When viewing a photo slideshow, a number of search results are listed which are linked to the photos. While these are technically searches, the user hasn’t explicitly made them.

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