Does Microsoft’s Live Search Club help increase search market share?

According to the Nielsen online reports it seems like Microsoft has increased its search market share from 12% to 13.8% in December from the previous month. (See MarketWatch Article) All things considered it seem that Microsoft has picked up close to 2% of the search market, a big gain for the company. So, if we can trust the Nielsen online ratings, what has attributed to the gain?

Now, a lot of people are talking about Google losing “search share”…but I really want to focus on Microsoft. More specifically, I want to examine the current promotional aspect of Microsoft’s search space. They have been trying to push the Live Search Club to searchers to give away prizes like t-shirts, etc. Something that I found interesting about this, was trying to create a “search community” more than giving away prizes.

In a world of increasingly popular social media sites like Digg, Reddit, etc., does creating a social or “prize give away” aspect to search give users a reason to use a search engine more then the next one? Is it possible to push people away from the mammoth lead that Google has gained and sustained? At the very least, could Microsoft make a push into second place, pushing Yahoo! to third?

Granted, really making a play at taking over second place in the search engine wars is a REAL possibility since Yahoo! is in flux at the moment. The question really is, can Microsoft take a good amount more of the search share away from Google? Or, is this promotional aspect to Microsoft Live Search an attempt at gaining fickle traffic that will begin to fizzle away as it looses its gusto?

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