Microsoft's Search Traffic Spikes: Cashback Gimmick A (Temporary) Success?*

Microsoft’s (MSFT) search traffic spiked in May, while searches at Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) both dipped, according to stats from Nielsen.

Why did Microsoft spike? We don’t know for sure, but we imagine it has something to do with buzz around Live Search Cashback, Microsoft’s save-money-by-shopping-through-our-search-engine gimmick.

Company May ’08 Queries y/y change m/m change Google 4,654,624 15.4% -8.9% Yahoo 1,328,667 -13.8% -8.1% Microsoft 1,043,848 72.4% 31.1%Cashback didn’t launch until May 21, so that would have to be a heck of a lot of searches in the last 11 days of the month to propel Microsoft that high on its own. But we can’t think of any other reason that Microsoft search queries would jump 31% when both Google and Yahoo dipped 8%-9%. Something we’re missing? Let us know in comments.

Meanwhile, what’ll be even more interesting? Whether or not Microsoft kept any of those Cashback tire-kickers in June.

Updates: A few important points. First, comScore’s stats for May flatly contradict Nielsen’s. Some commenters think this might have to do with search queries automatically conducted if someone types a wrong URL in their Internet Explorer address bar, or if there’s a DNS problem. I’ve contacted Nielsen to see if they filter those out. (comScore does.) Either way, they should be consistent month-over-month and year-over-year. Will update if I hear back from Nielsen.

And second, we were just as confused as you as to why Nielsen was sending out May numbers in July. Turns out these are re-released numbers — sent out because of earnings this week — and aren’t new. They were first sent out in mid-June. So we’ve removed “new” from the post. But still interesting, and look forward to seeing June numbers in a few days to see how Microsoft fared.

See Also:
Whoa: Microsoft Cashback Google-Killer Generates NO Revenue For Microsoft
Microsoft Cashback Test Drive: Slick! (But Won’t Kill Google)
Microsoft’s “Cash Back” Google Search Killer: Great Idea, Won’t Work

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