Internet marketing professionals are taking a wait-and-see attitude towards Bing, Microsoft Corporation’s recently released search engine. The company is reportedly spending $100 million on marketing for their new search engine in an effort to gain market share for Internet searches as well as the lucrative advertising revenue that a larger market share would provide. For many years Microsoft’s Live Search was the company’s search engine and, while it was the third-most popular search engine in a fairly crowded field, the company steadily lost market share to industry heavyweight Google. But now the company has thrown its considerable resources behind Bing in the hopes that the new search engine will attract more users and advertising revenue.
“They’ve added a few nice things, and I think the shopping comparison stuff with reviews is pretty compelling,” said Rich Dettmer, director-digital strategy at b-to-b agency Slack Barshinger, Chicago. “As far as paid search is concerned, we’re going to be on it. Our clients will use it. But, of course, I will tell you that the lion’s share of the budget still has to go where the lion’s share of the searches are, and that means Google.”
Before Bing launched, Microsoft’s Live Search came in third behind Google and Yahoo for market share for total searches. But with only 8 percent of search market share, a percentage which gradually and continually eroded and lost users to Google, it became a source of embarrassment (and far more important, lost revenue) to Microsoft. According to the latest available search engine statistics, Google logged 64.2% of all search queries in the U.S. in April 2009, with Yahoo at 20.4% and Live Search, Bing’s predecessor, at 8.2%.
But some Internet marketing professionals are keeping a close eye on Bing’s market share, how it presents relevant search results to users and how Bing might fit into the Internet marketing strategies they craft for clients.
Microsoft has unsuccessfully tried to reinvent its search engine several times in the years since it launched MSN Search in 1998. As Internet marketing and advertising have grown in popularity and relevance since then, MSN Search has morphed into Microsoft Search, then Windows Live Search, then Live Search with each iteration failing to attract the desired number of users.
James Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand and branding strategy expert, said many Internet marketers view Bing’s rollout with anticipation and bemusement. “Microsoft knows they’re behind the eight ball on this,” he said. “They’ve fumbled the ball a couple of times-they’ve just been lazy about building their own brand-but here’s a new opportunity to get something to work and be accepted.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Bing will finally turn the corner for Microsoft and become a viable challenger to Google’s dominance. But most Internet marketing professionals plan to keep a close eye on Bing’s market share over the coming weeks and months to see if it becomes the game-changer that Microsoft is hoping it will.
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