Photo: Associated Press
This guest post was written by Daniel Ruby, Research Director for Online Insights at ad network Chitika.Microsoft is and has always been a bastion of persistence. When they set their mind to dominating something, more often than not, they manage to do so – although to this point, they’ve not been able to do so in search. Based on the data I’ve broken down at Chitika over the last year, though, there are cracks in Google’s armour, and if Microsoft plays its cards right, they can hit the search market, and hit it hard.
I have to admit, I was somewhat less than excited when Microsoft announced a new “decision engine” to compete with Google. Live Search had a small segment of the market, but Google was tearing up the market share, looking more and more like they’d be the Microsoft of the 21st century – untouchable, monolithic, and able to brush aside smaller, “better” competition with the power of a seemingly insurmountable lead and lots and lots of cash.
But Bing got off to a hot start, prompted in part by the Microsoft hype machine, and in part by the Microsoft throw-advertising-money-at-it machine. People joined. People tested it out, and reviews were generally positive.
And the market share shifted, just a little bit at a time.
Now, Microsoft has set Bing up in a position to succeed. After combining forces with Yahoo!, the new “Microhoo” has enough market share – and Bing enough brand recognition – that now is the time for them to really hit Google where it hurts. Here’s how they can do it:
1. Protect your backyard. Heck, expand aggressively in your backyard. Last August, when the launch hype was at its highest, Bing had only 10.3% of the Internet Explorer search market – rough numbers, particularly considering the fact that IE makes up 50% of the Web browsing world. With IE, Microsoft already has a foot in the door – they just need to kick the door open and present Bing as an exciting and viable option.
2. Make nice with Apple. Psst, Microsoft – Apple HATES Google right now. Maybe more than they’ve ever hated you guys. Now is the time – with one fell swoop, you can jump in and steal 50% of ALL iPhone traffic, not to mention traffic from the iPad. The rumour has been floated a few times this year that Apple is considering booting Google out of mobile Safari in favour of Bing. Microsoft, do this. Do it now. Own the mobile search market – you know you want to.
3. Leverage the value of Bing users. We’ve run the numbers a few times, and always come to the same conclusion: Bing users are more valuable individually than Google users (we know because once they get onto a website, they’re about 50% more likely to click on an ad). Microsoft, this is huge. Search engines live and die by the quality of traffic they send, and with Bing users being brilliant targets, you should be telling anyone with a website to concentrate on your engine’s traffic. You’ve got a huge advantage here: leverage it.
The search war has just begun, but Microsoft may not ever see a better opportunity to attack Google and do some serious damage (market share damage; I’m certainly not advocating a ground assault on Mountain View). Pimp your traffic quality, and build your traffic quantity, and we may see people stop Googling everything and start Binging instead.
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