Club Live skews search share analysis (again); adjusts their numbers

While this news isn’t hot off the presses, we didn’t want to let it slip by.  In a blog post on last Wednesday, admits to getting “bitten by the Club Live bug”.  Club Live is a marketing tool/set of games offered by Live Search, in which conducting searches gains you points towards prizes.  While there may be some benefit in getting people to try and use Live Search, the games also, unless the market share analysts catch it, tend to skew search share results.

You would think that after the hubbub raised over Club Live last July we would have learned our lesson. Ever since that post last July we have been filtering out Club Live generated searches. It turns out that in February, MSN launched some new Club Live games that generated a solid amount of interest and skewed our March search market share report. So here I am a couple weeks later, after umpteen blogs have reposted our numbers and any number of bloggers have contrasted our results with the other third party measurement folks.

When initially posted on the apparent gains by Live Search, we reported on it, and it garnered a lot of interest at the time. In our post, we mentioned the Club Live anomalies of last July (and probably added to the confusion with a typo of our own: 8.4 to 10.2 isn’t “almost 4 points” doh!).

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The revised numbers show Live Search with a slight gain (the original report showed a gain from 8.4 in Feb to 10.2, which is now revised to 8.5).  Even with these little glitches, US search share numbers continue to tell pretty much the same story: Google is dominant and becoming more so, Yahoo is in a downward spiral, and Live Search, with all the glitz and glam and Club Live schemes, hasn’t made a dent in the market, and is trending downward as well (all of this of course, according to numbers reported by these services).  Here’s another graph from Compete, showing trends indexed to last March:

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Even with these occasional glitches and inexact numbers, the trends are fairly clear.  What isn’t clear is if Microsoft can make any significant changes in those trends, by buying Yahoo! (or not, and picking up the pieces), or some other strategy (the home page is down right now, will upcoming changes, sometimes referred to as “Rome”, have any effect at all?)

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