How ‘Bing it On’ Campaign Affects Search Strategy

Stephen Yagielowicz

For some television viewers, there is seemingly no escape from the Bing media blitz — a marketing campaign that is only rivaled by election year political ads — and indeed, the “Bing it On” approach is much the same: a ballot-based metaphor for presenting side-by-side search results that users can “vote” on, to determine whether Bing or rival Google is the better search engine. You can see it in action at BingItOn.com.

According to Bing’s Matt Wallaert, a previous study revealed that people preferred Bing to Google nearly 2 to 1 for web search results when entering a query of their choice and receiving side-by-side results from both Bing and Google with all branding removed. Each person in the study repeated the process 10 times, choosing the search results that were best for them (or declared them a tie). Participant’s votes were tallied to determine their overall preference.

According to Bing’s Matt Wallaert, a previous study revealed that people preferred Bing to Google nearly 2 to 1 for web search results when entering a query of their choice and receiving side-by-side results from both Bing and Google with all branding removed.

“One of the unique interplays between psychology and language is the way in which we communicate using examples,” Wallaert wrote. “Science is much the same: while we sometimes like to talk about the highlights, we arrive at the truth only through repetition and expansion.”

Wallaert explains that in its previous test, Bing allowed participants to select their own search queries to make them feel as natural as possible; but critics of the results ask if participants were “just searching for really weird things,” so a new survey was devised.

Conducted by independent research company Answers Research, based on a sample of approximately 1,000 participants age 18 and older across the U.S., a series of specific search queries were presented. If none of these searches appealed to them, the participant could refresh the available choices.

From there the process was the same as before, with side-by-side results displayed without branding or site specific features — such as Bing Snapshot and Social Search or Google Knowledge Graph.

“We wanted queries that matched what people typically searched for, so we finally settled on using terms from Google’s Zeitgeist 2012, because while we could have used our own Top Searches of 2012, we figured the right thing to do was to go with our competitor’s terms,” Wallaert notes. “After all, you’d think Google would be better at [its] own top queries, right?”

“Wrong,” Wallaert was quick to declare.

“Even taking away some of our most innovative features and with the handicap of using Google’s top search queries, Bing still comes out on top, with 52 percent of people preferring Bing’s results over Google’s,” Wallaert said, adding that 36 percent preferred Google, 12 percent declared a tie. “For those that favor discarding ties, that’s 60 percent for Bing [and] 40 percent for Google when people had a clear preference.”

The upshot is that more people prefer Bing to Google and as word gets around, Bing will enjoy increasing audience share and bring opportunities for digital media marketers — and getting that word out is something that Bing-parent Microsoft is keen to do.

“Bing it On” is not the only front in the search provider’s offensive against Google, however, which also faces the forces of “Scroogled” (www.scroogled.com), a campaign to promote Outlook.com over Gmail as your online email provider of choice.

“Think Google respects your privacy? Think again,” states the Scroogled site. “Google goes through every Gmail that’s sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail users with paid ads. And there’s no way to opt out of this invasion of your privacy. Outlook.com is different — we don’t go through your email to sell ads.”

The site encourages visitors to sign a petition to stop Google from going through personal email to sell ads, explaining that Outlook.com prioritizes user privacy, so you won’t see ads based on keywords from your personal email.

“Your email is nobody else’s business. But Google makes it their business. Even if you’re not a Gmail user, Google still goes through your personal email sent to Gmail and uses the content to sell ads,” Scroogle concludes. “If you don’t want to get Scroogled, use Outlook.com.”

It’s powerful stuff that taken as a whole is leaving many consumers with a better view of Bing and other Microsoft products; even if the truth about all of the claims being made is a little unclear.

Having said that, it is clear that adult search marketers need to explore what Bing has to offer a Google-congested world if they are to follow the flow of traffic and stay in the listings.


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