As opposed to some other search engines, Microsoft (and their baby, Bing) is not just trying to copy Google, and hope to one day catch up through some miraculous event (voodoo magic perhaps?), but is actually attempting innovation to beat Google. We have looked at some startups that have challenged Google in the past, however this isn’t some backyard brain trust attempting to beat Google, but Microsoft.
Bing has never tried to stand up to Google, and attempt to beat it on its own terms. Instead, by focussing on image results, comparative searches and other variations on the standard search, Bing is trying to carve out a niche of people who don’t get what they want from standard searches, or are more visual people.
Microsoft believes that people are craving a more visual search experience, and are setting up Bing to deliver this. Although only time will tell whether this is an effective method, at least they are tying to offer something different, as opposed to just a primitive version of Google’s results.
To expand on the visual element, Bing is experimenting with the use of logos in the paid ads. At the moment, paid ads are served with a heading, and two lines of text. These icons will supposedly make the ads stand out more, and encourage both advertisers to allocate budget to Bing, and consumers to click the ads.
According to James Colborn, the director of Microsoft Advertising, Bing has seen a 40% increase in click-through rates. Colborn is not shy in saying what they want:
“If you had to sit advertisers down and asked them what they wanted from Live Search, many would have said ‘more searches’”… “We’ve seen momentum in consumer activity on Bing, which should ultimately increase ad budgets.”
All through saying this, Bing is realistic in where they stand, and where they need to be. As of August, Google has a 64% market share, which has increased. Compare this to Bing’s 10%, and you can see that Bing has a long way to go. To try and close that gap, another initiative has been launched: paying users to use the search function.
By the use of cash back incentives, Bing has paired up with retailers to drive clicks through their sites. Although not expecting to completely revolutionise the search patterns of users, Microsoft has noticed a higher click through rate for the cash back program, which they presume will increase conversion rate.
Although there is a long way to go before they can deem any system to be a success, we applaud Bing’s attempts to diversify what is offered to users.