By: Jonathan Schultz
Microsoft rolled out its latest direct attack ad against Google at the end of last month in the latest effort of a long string of ads designed to promote its struggling search engine, Bing. Themed for the holiday season, Microsoft warns online shoppers not to get “scroogled” (no, I’m not making this up) when searching for gifts this year.
The inspiration for the ridiculous term comes from Microsoft attacking Google for its “unfair ‘pay-to-rank’ shopping practices” (Fiegerman, 2012). Microsoft feels the need to let everyone in on the not-so-secret secret that Google’s search results are paid for by advertisers.
“This apparently refers to Google’s decision earlier this year to require merchants to pay in order to have their products come up in the results on Google Shopping. Previously, both free and paid listings were featured in Google Shopping results,” said Fiegerman of popular tech site Mashable.
In the last few months, Microsoft launched two other advertisements, including a “Pepsi-style Bing It On challenge, which encouraged people to compare results from the two search engines” (Fiegerman) in an effort to try and push the very radical notion that more people use Bing than Google. After that, Microsoft ran an online campaign via Bing’s privacy policies that attacked Google’s history of selling your information to advertisers. Word to the wise: Everybody is doing this, not just Google.
In what was to be expected following David throwing stones at the search Goliath, Google reps responded to Bing’s claims with the following:
“Google Shopping makes it easier for shoppers to quickly find what they’re looking for, compare different products and connect with merchants to make a purchase. With new 360-degree, interactive product images, social shopping lists and a fast growing inventory of more than a billion products worldwide, Google is a great resource for shoppers to find what they need, at great prices for their loved ones this holiday season.”
Let’s face it: Google has a strong-arm on search that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Currently, Google holds 70% and 97% of computer and mobile search market share respectively, and 85% of computer market share in Europe (McChesney, 2012). Nobody is going to switch over to Bing, even with the Microsoft name on it, because Google has a wonderful thing called the “network effect” on their side, which means that “the largest firm in an industry increases its attractiveness to consumers by an order of magnitude as it gets a greater market share” (McChesney, 2012).
Microsoft is doing everything they can go get people to use Bing. The search engine comes pre-packed on Xbox 360s, Windows 8 devices, and Internet Explorer browsers. Nevertheless, they can’t scratch the certifiably monopolized market share of the Stanford giant that built its foundation on search.
It’s only going to get easier for Google to maintain its monopoly (one of it’s many), not harder. Microsoft needs to get with the program of the digital age and realize that it’s not about taking over every little industry: it’s about staying one of the digital giants in the first place and convincing people to come live in your digital ecosystem. With sales of the Microsoft Surface tablet not going as well as hoped, that might be the company’s most relevant concern right now.
McChesney, Robert. CMN 275: Money, Media & Power.