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Thread: Microsoft (Decline Of)

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Will Bing Become A Verb?


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Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 22:11:35 +1000

According to the Internet rumour-mill, Microsoft is preparing a massive advertising campaign for their search engine. Just after we had started to get used to the new name of "Live Search" it seems due to be re-badged yet again. The new name might be "Bing" - It is currently known in-house as "Kumo". The cost of the campaign is rumoured to be in the vicinity of $100,000,000. This sounds like a powerfully impressive vicinity! But for a corporation the size of Microsoft it is little more then "beer money". Will it be enough to persuade us to adopt the verb Bing?

The advertising campaign may seem like a grand idea to strategists at Microsoft central, however there are a few things that they need to get right apart from the advertising budget. The search engine market has several features that make it unique amongst markets. And some of these pose problems for would-be start-ups.

Microsoft appear to have recently put a lot of effort into their search engine technology. However they have concentrated on appearances only. And the main focus has been to mimic the market leader. A query to "Live Search" may return results that appear very similar to results returned by a query to Google.

However the fact that Live Search can emulate Google's results for queries on well established data does not mean that it will ever be capable of delivering similar results for current or "breaking" news. A good example was the word "Bing". When news of the rumour broke it could be found as the number three item in "Breaking News" in Google. It took over 24 hours for news of "Bing" to appear in Microsoft's Live Search which was returning matches for "Bing Lee" and "Bing Crosby" - And one supposes that Microsoft would have had the inside running on that story! Furthermore even if Microsoft is able to get current news as quickly as Google and to deliver relevant results, it does not mean that the service will able to "scale up". If it really does become a success it may stall when confronted with an increase in demand.

Another problem for Microsoft is the use of traditional advertising. There is considerable doubt about the efficacy of these advertising channels when it comes to such a core online service as search engine technology. The bitter truth is that the best place to advertise such products is online. And as businesses all around the world are discovering one of the best online advertisers is Google. This must be bitter indeed for Microsoft. Do they just pour 100M into the traditional advertising channels for no return or should they contemplate purchasing a large chunk of more effective advertising from Google? And if they did so and hundreds of millions of concurrent users world-wide started to use Microsoft's search engine, it could be rather embarrassing for them if the service was over-whelmed by the extra load.

Still all that advertising might help improve Microsoft's image. It could certainly do with some improvement. It is highly unlikely that they will "advertise" their way further up the search engine ladder, and if they did it is even less likely that any gains would last more than a day or so.

Nevertheless your humble blogger will not declare that "Pigs might fly" before Microsoft becomes a search engine powerhouse. After all, dear reader, Swine Flu (flew).


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