Microsoft's search engine was the big mover of the month, showing a 5 percent gain, according to Experian Hitwise.
Microsoft's Bing increased its share of the U.S. search market by 5 percent in January, further closing the gap between itself and the market leaders, Google and Yahoo, according to online measurement service Experian Hitwise.
Google still reigns supreme with 71.5 percent of all searches in the U.S. for the month, with Yahoo remaining a distant second with 14.6 percent. Bing in January hit 9.4 percent - its highest point to date - and Ask.com came in at nearly 2.6 percent.
Bing was the big mover of the month though with its 5 percent gain. Google lost 1 percent, and Yahoo lost about 2 percent.
While Bing's inroads are impressive given its relatively recent launch date of June 2009, it continues to enjoy support from a $100 million ad campaign. Whether it will retain the users it's now gaining once that campaign ends remains to be seen.
Experian's stats show that Bing is performing particularly well among four verticals: automotive, shopping, travel and healthcare. Bing saw double-digit grown in all these verticals in January, and an impressive 94 percent growth in healthcare.
"They seem to be targeting certain areas, and that seems to be paying off for them." Matt Tatham, a spokesman for Experian, said.
Tatham also pointed out that Bing's gains on Yahoo would soon be a non-issue thanks to last year's deal in which Microsoft agreed to power all of Yahoo's searches.
While Bing is still a long way from posing any serious threat to Google's search business, the market leader has lately begun dipping its toe into the same kind of advertising that seems to be driving Bing. The Mountain View, Calif-based company ran its first TV and billboard campaigns in 2009, and last Sunday ran its first-ever Super Bowl ad.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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