Microsoft’s new or rebadged search engine, bing (www.bing.com) is pretty nice but I question the ad strategy.
Clearly, Microsoft had to do something. Various ratings agencies put Microsoft’s share of the search market in single digits. Web analytics vendor NetApplications gives Google 81.5% of the global market vs. about 3 percent for Microsoft according to an article by JR Raphael in PC World. Nonetheless, and perhaps against common sense, Microsoft’s strategy appears to be attempting to leverage dissatisfaction among Google users. This approach worked wonderfully well a few years ago for Salesforce.com against Siebel but it was an apples and oranges comparison. The two had vastly different technologies and markets and Siebel had “issues.” Equally effective is the job Apple continues to do on Microsoft with the Mac/PC commercials.
In each case the campaigns tap into real disaffection by the buyer for the leading vendor’s product. But it is questionable that the disaffection Microsoft is trying to tap into in their first ad for bing, “Manifesto,” is even there. The ad tries to make a connection between the economic meltdown and “search overload” Microsoft’s new metric and reason to claim search superiority.
Who knew? Who knew that the entire economic collapse could have been somehow prevented by simply having a better search engine? The nonsequitur is all very reminiscent of some 1960’s TV ad for laundry soap. As a matter of fact, didn’t the Rolling Stones mock that whole gig in “Satisfaction” — “When I’m watchin’ my TV/and that man comes on to tell me/how white my shirts can be…”
Bing might be a good product. It delivers a lot of relevant information tangential to your original search and that can make the search process more direct. Many people will like this. Of course Google recently presented an upgrade too but for them 81.5 percent market share is a position that can only go in one direction eventually.
But while Microsoft may have engineered a good product in bing, the company’s ad campaign shows that it still can’t dance the new dance.