Microsoft Cashback Test Drive: Slick! (But Won't Kill Google)

After a brief test-drive of Microsoft Live Search cashback (and a scan of the lengthy press release), our thoughts are below. The product execution is strong and answers some of our questions/concerns. For the reasons we outlined earlier, however, we still don’t think the new service will pose much of a threat to Google. Try cashback yourself here.

The “cash back” varies by store, which is a nice feature for both advertisers and searchers. This makes cashback similar to a real-time sale, where retailers can compete for your business. Of course, it’s also no different than an actual sale, which would show up in a price-comparison shopping search engine. On our test drive, the per cent of cash back on a $100 digital camera ranged from 2% to a surprisingly meaningful and tempting 13% (Circuit City).

“Cashback” products will be mixed with non-participating products in search results. This is good, as it allows Microsoft’s product search engine to include products and retailers who don’t participate, thus making the selection better for users.

Microsoft has grabbed many of the key partners except one: Amazon. Our personal shopping searches start (and usually end) at Amazon. We note that Amazon is not yet playing ball here, probably because it wants to maintain its draw as many users’ primary shopping destination. eBay is participating, but it remains to be seen how well eBay products can be integrated into the SERPs.

Microsoft only gets paid if you buy something (CPA). This is nice for merchants but probably a bummer for Microsoft (they bear the risk of drive-bys and window shoppers). It’s also not clear how much merchants pay for clicks and/or how this is determined). Any insight here would be appreciated.

Nice execution! As the screenshot below shows, the SERPs are organised by per cent of cash back and allow you to compare bottom-line prices. This is clean and simple, as was the registration and click-through to J&R. The “total store price” in the lefthand graphic was wrong (and different from the one in the right box), but, hey, it’s beta.

See Also: Microsoft Cashback Google Killer: Great Idea, Won’t Work

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