New statistics seemingly show that Microsoft’s Bing AI is not helping to drive traffic to its search site.
According to analytics firm Statcounter, Bing.com has actually fallen in terms of its market share for global search engine traffic, so this isn’t even a case of the Bing chatbot only providing small gains – in fact, the search site has gone backward (as highlighted by ZDNet).
At least compared to January 2023, when Bing.com had a share of 3.03% of the search market, and as of July of this year, that has dipped down very slightly to 2.99%.
In fairness to Microsoft, that 2.99% figure does represent a small gain on the 2.76% share Bing.com had in April.
ZDNet also points to another analytics firm, Similarweb, which puts Bing.com’s search share at 3.23% – which is pretty much the same as it was at the start of 2023.
Another analytics outfit, YipitData, also has numbers that apparently show Bing traffic at 95.7 million in February, growing to 99.2 million in April – but then falling to 97.7 million in June (this excludes China, mind you, and mobile devices too).
The overall picture this paints very much looks like Bing.com has remained pretty much flat in terms of how many users are searching the web with the site, then, despite the launch of the Bing AI in February, and subsequent full rollout in May – and that was clearly not Microsoft’s plan.
Analysis: An uphill battle (and a half)
Microsoft is faced with a very steep uphill battle in the search sphere, where Google has been dominant for so long at this point. So, when the Bing chatbot came onto the scene, Microsoft was doubtless thinking this could be the secret weapon it needs to really cut into Google’s big lead.
Even Google was worried about what might happen – just recall the mad rush to launch its rival Bard AI, when Microsoft pushed Bing AI onto the scene (also rather too early, before it was really ready).
As noted, these fresh stats look worrying in terms of the light they cast on Bing AI’s impact, but Microsoft isn’t buying it, and claims the figures here are skewed – and that they fail to account for surfers who go directly to the Bing chatbot’s page.
Microsoft told ZDNet: “Our usage signals show strong growth since February and because of new access points like Bing Chat Enterprise, we’ve experienced one of our biggest growth months on record since we launched our new Bing and Edge experience.”
For their part, the analytics firms told ZDNet that their figures do take direct traffic to Bing Chat into account.
David F. Carr, senior insights manager at Similarweb, commented: “Microsoft says their internal numbers show greater growth than we’re reflecting. It’s possible that we’re missing some of the Bing Chat interactions that use an Edge sidebar or extension, but I don’t know how significant that is in the grand scheme of things.”
While we can’t know the full story here, and we certainly wouldn’t say Microsoft doesn’t have something of a point, the fact that there are three separate sources of third-party data which appear to – roughly – match with each other, is rather telling. And as Carr observes, any missing bits and pieces of data will likely be of questionable significance.
All that said, this will be a very long game for Microsoft, with the idea being that Edge, Bing.com, and Bing AI will all reinforce each other, and ultimately build browser share as well as search share, taking on Chrome in the battle for the best web browser, as well as Google search.
Microsoft is certainly building in features for its chatbot at a rate of knots, and over time, Bing AI could help to build search (and browser) adoption, but at this admittedly relatively early stage, nothing much appears to be happening yet.