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For Google and search ad revenue, it's a glass half full

Google owns about 55 percent of the search ad business, but it's still way ahead of its competitors -- despite Baidu's strength in the big China market.

A look at search ads worldwide from eMarketer. eMarketer

The market for search ads remains Google's playground, even if it has to share nearly half the turf with competitors.

For the first time, research firm eMarketer has broken out worldwide search advertising revenue, revealing that Google owns an enduring 55 percent of that money. For 2015, eMarketer predicts that Google will bring in $44.5 billion in search ad revenue, for 54.5 percent of the market. That will mark a rise in funds from $38.4 billion last year and $32.6 billion in 2013, but a very small drop in percentage of the market (from 54.7 percent last year and 55.2 percent the year before).

Perhaps you thought that Google, long considered the kingpin in this field, would own much more than half the market. But it's still way ahead of its rivals.

The second-place company in search ad revenue, China-based search engine Baidu, will muster $7.2 billion in search ad revenue this year, nabbing 8.8 percent of the space for a gain of a little more than one percentage point from 2014, according to eMarketer. Microsoft's search ads, meanwhile, will earn the company $3.5 billion and 4.2 percent of the market. Much of the remainder of the market is lumped into the "other" category.

"Baidu is reaping the benefits of Google's ban in China -- and of course, a massive and growing Internet user population," eMarketer said in its report. "Baidu's market share is a testament to the growth and influence of China's digital ad market on the global stage."

Google declined to comment on the report.

The eMarketer findings come just days after the company released its findings on digital display ad revenue in the US. That study found that while Google owns a sizable chunk of the display ad business, which includes banner ads, sponsorships and mobile ads, the company landed behind Facebook. In fact, eMarketer said that Facebook will generate $6.8 billion in display ads this year, giving it 25 percent of the market, while Google will generate $3.5 billion for 13 percent market share.

The search ad revenue numbers largely reflect how many people are using a given search engine. In terms of usage, according to NetMarketShare, Google in February controlled 58.4 percent of the worldwide search market, followed by China powerhouse Baidu at 26.7 percent and Microsoft's Bing at 7 percent.

Search advertising revenue is in large part about quantity. The more times people hit a company's search engine and query it, the more they'll be presented with ads around those search results. Google, like other search companies, charges advertisers by both impressions -- the number of times an ad has been seen by users -- and clicks on the individual ads.

Google's advertisers use the company's AdWords tool to determine search queries that in some way relate to their business. A technology company, for example, might place ads on the Google search term "tech" to drive more traffic to its site. That company pays Google for placement around its search results.