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ComScore refines search data measurements

Online measurement company comScore Inc. is refining how it presents data on search market share to reflect changes in user behavior.

Generally, search market share statistics have been accumulated by counting the entries in the boxes at sites run by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other engines.

Now comScore wants to capture searches done in other ways and on other sites – for information on Wikipedia, for instance, and product listings at eBay Inc.’s auction site and the Amazon.com Inc. retail store.

“Search is no longer the box we’re all used to,” comScore Chief Executive Magid Abraham said during a private demonstration on his laptop. “A more fluid definition of the market necessitates looking at search more broadly.”

The changes also will help comScore better track search engines used heavily abroad but not in the United States, Abraham said.

The search market data from comScore and rival Nielsen/NetRatings are closely watched in the industry as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Corp., Time Warner Inc.’s AOL and InterActiveCorp’s Ask.com vie for a larger slice of the search pie – and thus gain more opportunities to display targeted ads triggered by a user’s search terms.

Abraham said companies would repeatedly complain that this or that wasn’t being counted. The idea behind the changes, which comScore calls qSearch 2.0, is to give clients more ways to slice and dice data and leave his company out of the role of referee.

For the standard reports on market share, comScore will now be tracking dozens of additional search engines around the world, beyond the top five companies, all based in the United States. It will also begin to give search engines credit for certain referrals from partners.

Search engines also will now get credit when the same terms are used in different subsections of a site. For instance, a Google user could get different results by clicking on tabs for “Web,” “Images” and “News” without retyping the search terms. That used to count as one search; now Google would get credit for three.

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Search, Web Search, Search Engine, ComScore, Search Market Share, Search Stats

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