NEW YORK - Around the world, Internet users are conducting about 1.4 million searches every minute — most of them through Google, a new comScore study estimates.
Yet Baidu.com is strong enough in China and NHN Corp. in South Korea to crack the global top five in com-Score’s inaugural report on worldwide search patterns. The report, based on August traffic patterns, was scheduled for release today.
In the past, comScore reported search numbers for only a handful of countries. The numbers from comScore and rival Nielsen/NetRatings are closely watched by industry analysts, even as the measuring firms use online recruitment techniques dismissed by many traditional pollsters.
According to comScore’s qSearch 2.0 service, more than 37 billion searches worldwide went through Google in August. That’s about 60 percent of all searches, higher than Google’s 50 percent in the United States.
Yahoo was second worldwide with 8.5 billion, followed by Baidu at 3.3 billion, Microsoft Corp. at 2.2 billion and NHN at 2 billion.
In China, one of the few countries where Google isn’t dominant, Baidu shows how one regional player “can break into the top five globally by their complete control of a very, very large market,” said Bob Ivins, comScore’s executive vice president. Baidu’s numbers would likely keep increasing, he said, with China’s online population.
Baidu entered the Chinese search market much earlier than Google, while NHN successfully tapped Koreans’ preference for human interaction over software in getting search results.
Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the industry Web site Search Engine Land, said Baidu’s strength shows that Google isn’t invincible and “can be beaten in markets ... but it’s still going to be a challenge.”
Sullivan said search numbers from comScore and Nielsen offer “an extremely rough guide” to the state of the industry, and a shift in market share — or lack of it — could help point to whether a new service or strategy is working.
But many financial analysts say the search numbers aren’t as useful as cash flows and ad revenue in gauging a stock’s performance — in Google’s case, sailing past $600 for the first time Monday.
“This is a data set that investors understand has its useful purpose, and predicting quarterly (financial) results is not its useful purpose,” said Rob Sanderson, an analyst with American Technology Research.