the search market in South Korea. It points out that local search company Naver.com has more than 77 percent of all Web searches originating in South Korea, according to Internet market research company KoreanClick. This is largely due to user-generated content - specifically Naver's "Knowledge iN" real-time question-and-answer platform, which gets "an average of 44,000 questions a day". Second in the South Korean search market is another local product, Daum.net, with 10.8 percent share, followed by Yahoo's Korean-language service with 4.4 percent. Google has only 1.7 percent of Korean Web searches.The International Herald Tribune had a good article recently about
The IHT has more info on Naver Knowledge iN:
"Naver has so far accumulated a user-generated database of 70 million entries. Typical queries include why North Korea is building a nuclear bomb, which digital music player is best, why people have hair whorls and what a high-school boy should do when he has a crush on a female teacher.
Lacking the full-time editorial oversight found on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, some Naver entries are of dubious veracity and attract vigorous rebuttals. But many respondents, keen to build and maintain an online reputation, do careful research to provide useful answers."
Interestingly, this has some similarities with the approach of Viewpoints, the online reviews company profiled yesterday by our own Phil Butler. But what also struck me about Naver's approach is that it is essentially what Yahoo is attempting to do, with its heavily-promoted Answers product. If you look at just about any Yahoo content site, you'll see an Answers section displayed prominently.
Of course, the Q&A format hasn't escaped Google's attention either (nothing gets past Google). The Mountain View company is experimenting with Google Answers in Russia. Also, as SearchEngineLand noted, Google has tried making its UI more attractive in Korea in order to get more market share. If this kind of experimentation (Q&A, UI innovation) sounds familiar, it's because it is precisely what our network blog AltSearchEngines talks about every day :-)
Pic c/o SEL
Of course Q&A won't be the answer for every market - Google is very entrenched as the number 1 search engine in the US and most other english language markets. But the South Korea example does show the benefits of a) localizing your product, and b) actively using and promoting 'next generation' search methods. Also don't forget that as mobile phones begin to be used more in the US and similar markets, user-generated content and personalization will be used more by Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask and other companies.
I do think this is Yahoo's best chance of making ground on Google, because they are strong in both user-generated content and mobile. Although as yet Yahoo Answers is nowhere near as compelling a product as Naver is in Korea.