Taken at face value, it appears that Yahoo increased its search market share last month. However there is some trickery involved.
Yahoo has changed its gallery sites to “search for” images rather than just browse them as they had before. In doing so, Yahoo’s comScore numbers went up significantly last month; Google’s went down.
Notice in the image below the navigation items now become “searches.”
The raw numbers have Yahoo (YHOO) surging to 17.7% in April from 16.9% in March. Meanwhile, Google’s share conversely dropped to 64.4% from 65.1%, and Bing’s grew marginally from 11.7 to 11.8%.
But analysts caution that the ‘slideshow trick’ probably skewed the results significantly in Yahoo’s favor.
On one hand, users weren’t really searching anything, they were simply browsing a slideshow. The move isn’t really fair to Google (GOOG) who doesn’t count that type of activity as search.
On the other hand, below the slideshow, paid search results did show up. Those slideshows were generating search revenue for Yahoo, though it isn’t certain how Yahoo’s advertisers feel about the synthetic search placements.
JP Morgan analysts cautioned:
PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated the numbers that comScore would have reported if the change hadn’t gone into effect would have had Yahoo and Bing losing share to 16.7% and 11.3% respectively. Google would have gained, to 65.7%.
The new results may not be entirely bad for Google who are under scrutiny for monopolistic concerns in the search market.