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Bing isn't taking over the internet yet, everyone calm down

I keep seeing a sensational story from Mashable flash across my radars today: "Bing Now Bigger Than Digg, Twitter and CNN." Golly, I guess millions in TV advertising really can make you win in this crazy marketplace, huh? Not so fast, bucko. Google isn't going anywhere, and digg, Twitter and CNN folks are likely not sweating this any more than I am. Why?

First of all, let's consider the source. Compete.com is the "unwashed masses" product from Compete, Inc. Competitors of these guys include heavyweights like comScore, Nielsen/NetRatinga and Alexa. Granted, Compete was bought by research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres back in 2008, but their 2007 revenues weren't terrific. I'm not saying Compete's data is wrong, but I am saying that there's a little potential for self-serving headline grabbing here. I wonder what Compete's stats for today have been, eh? Well, according to their own site, Compete does better traffic than Alexa, and it looks like they get more than double Alexa's traffic. So maybe they're not so small, and maybe this is great. But Compete is just another 3rd party player here, so we can't be 100% on these metrics to begin with. Oh, and the kicker: these are US visitors only.

Now on to the data. How could Bing grab so many new users in so little time? Hmmm. Well, none of us bloggers have been able to shut up about it, but to be honest, not that many people listen to us. But it might be two other factors (call this a hunch):

1. The MSN toolbar automagically updated itself to become a Bing-powered toolbar. This happened on my work PC without my permission, or without even asking. One day it was MSN, and the next it was a much more emo-looking Bing. The butterfly is still hanging on, but Bing is nipping at its heels. Of course, I'm sure the installed user base of MSN's toolbar is negligible, right? No one uses, IE, yes? That was sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell. Maybe that deal with Sun will help them out eventually.
2. Television ads. Hey, Mashable, you completely forgot about this old technology call The Television. This particular medium reaches more eyeballs every day than you'll see in a week, so I can understand how you'd overlook it. I happen to keep the TV on as background noise and I've noticed a lot of Bing ads. In every time slot. Surely that has to account for some of those new uniques? I've never seen an ad for digg, and Twitter hasn't done any TV ads on their own. Yes, you can buy eyeballs.

Lastly, in case Mashable and everyone on Twitter who won't shut up about this has forgotten, here's how the web now works: a) make something, b) promote it, c) ride the fungal bloom and hope it lasts. Yeah, we've all dugg stories to some random site, haven't we? But did you really expect funkyturtleliterature.blogspot.com to get as big as CNN? Or even see repeat visitors within a week? Lest we forget our memes, I will remind folks that this happens on the web all the time. Does anyone remember Second Life's user base claims? And how are they doing, exactly?

Bing is awesome, and kudos to Microsoft for finally appearing to start to "get it" -- I have been happily using Bing in addition to my Google searches. But is it really bigger than CNN, Twitter, and digg? No, not really. Not where it matters. And you better believe it matters to advertisers. Compete's own metrics point out that the uniques on Bing haven't yet caught up with Live.com, although the recent redirect will fix this in short order. Oh yeah, you just converted more "new" uniques to your domain. Congrats, YOU WIN!

So yeah, Bing is scaring Google, I guess, and it'll continue to grow and gain marketplace. That's a good thing, as it causes Yahoo and Google to step it up a bit (Chrome OS, anyone?). But until I hear people saying "I just binged for car quotes," I'm not calling the search wars over by a long shot.

Tags: analysis, analytics, bing, google, mashable

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