Users Love Microsoft, Yahoo Search -- When It's Branded With A Google Logo


Microsoft (MSFT) will spend $100 million re-branding search engine as Bing. The TV, radio and print campaign from agency JWT will try to persuade consumers that Google (GOOG) doesn’t work as well as they think.

$100 million is a lot of money for an ad campaign — about double the size of a “sizable” national consumer-product rollout, according to AdAge.

Microsoft thinks the campaign will work because 42% of Web searches require refinement and another 25% result in back-button clicks.

But we’re sceptical for two reasons.

The first reason is that Google holds a death grip on search market mindshare. Consider this little bombshell AdAge dropped in its report on the ad campaign:

“Google has conducted internal tests in which the company put its logo and treatment on another engine’s search results. Users still prefer the results with the Google logo, even if they’re not Google results”

The second problem is a more basic one. Microsoft thinks evidence that people have to refine their Web searches and click the back-button when they use Google is also evidence that Google search isn’t good. We think people probably don’t mind clicking around and refining their searches. We don’t. Since Google is fast, trying another query is easy.

We maintain that if Microsoft really wants to improve its standing in the search business it has two options, and that it should probably take both.

  • Microsoft should acquire Twitter for whatever it costs. Twitter is growing fast and so is Twitter search. Since Twitter search is a handy way to find user-reviews of many different kinds of products on Twitter and off, we think Twitter results pages are a perfect place to put the kinds of demand-fullfillment ads that make Google billions of dollars each quarter. Unlike Microsoft, Twitter is a Web-native brand like Google. Also like Google, it completely owns the mindshare in the microblogging market. Just ask the people behind Jaiku.
  • Microsoft must finish its search deal with Yahoo (YHOO). Combining Microsoft’s search queries with Yahoo’s would create a large scale alternative for Google’s search marketers. If Microsoft can add some of them, as well as the Yahoo advertisers who don’t already advertise on Microsoft, it will increase the number of bidders for its keywords, driving up prices.

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