Friday, January 27

How Old Are You Now: Search Engine Age Demographics

My post yesterday on the seeming dominance of Google in the younger generation prompted me to do some more thinking and research. It piqued my interest in the demographic breakdown of the major SEs. Is Google really THE choice of the youth or do kids use other search engines as well? My own observations say that Google dominates in the younger generation much more so than in the older generation, but is my hypothesis correct? What I found in my research was surprising, both in its findings and in the dirth of information. Here are three studies that I found which I believe are the most current and relevant:

Search Engine Usage in North America by Enquiro. (April 2004)
Google Gains Overall, Competition Builds Niches by Clickz Network(June 2004)
Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2005-2006 by Marketing Sherpa (September 2005)

The first study has an interesting conclusion on SE usage and age:
We expected to see a trend in search engine usage according to age, but this wasn’t the case. High usage of Google was relatively consistent (at about 70%) and showed no specific trends. (Hotchkiss, Garrison, and Jensen, p 53.)
However, I notice that only 4.4% of the 425 participants sampled were under 20 (p23). This is a very small sample. I'm not an expert in statistics, but 18.7 youngsters doesn't seem like a statistically significant sample, at least not enough refute my hypothesis. Although, it does cast a hint of doubt. Does this work for a larger sample?

The second article, on Google Gains, is interesting because it claims that Yahoo has the largest share of the young audience: 48.23% vs. Google's 43.57% for users 18-34. This isn't that surprising, because this group really came onto the Internet at a time when Yahoo was a dominant player. This doesn't isolate the college group (18-22), the "Google Generation" from the pre-Google generation. In short, it doesn't really provide enough data to address the issue.

The last report could prove illuminating if someone has a copy. I would be interested in hearing what it has to say.

To my knowledge no one has studied, or at least not made public, a detailed look at search engine usage, loyalty, etc.. inthe younger generation: 13-23. If they did perhaps we could really validate whether or not this group really is the "Google Generation."

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