Microsoft Goes Pepsi Challenge against Google: Will it Work?

Microsoft has used attack ads to go after Apple, and now it has Google in its sights. The software giant is set to launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, the search engine it hopes will help it grab a bigger slice of the online ad market. (…)

People with knowledge of the planned push said the ads won’t go after Google, or Yahoo for that matter, by name. Instead, they’ll focus on planting the idea that today’s search engines don’t work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems. That, Microsoft is hoping, will give consumers a reason to consider switching search engines, which, of course, is one of Bing’s biggest challenges.

“If you grab the average user off the street and ask them, ‘Does search suck?’ I think they’d say no. They don’t know what else can be done,” said Shashi Seth, a former Google executive who is now chief revenue officer at Cooliris. “They think search does a pretty good job, and if you could prove otherwise with a product that’s differentiated, people will sit up and take notice.”

Indeed, data show that about 65% of people are satisfied or very satisfied with online search. But Microsoft sees an opening on its own proprietary search data: 42% of searches require refinement, and 25% of clicks are the back button.

via Microsoft Aims Search Guns at Google With Bing – Advertising Age – Digital.

What it means: Microsoft is planning a big ad push for their new search engine Bing (I’ve seen it called Kumo elsewhere) and they’re hoping they can get people to re-think the way they search the Web. As the search world reaches parity in terms of result relevancy, Microsoft thinks it can make a dent in Google’s hegemony.  This advertising effort from Microsoft reminds me of the Pepsi Challenge. As we remember, the second place cola manufacturer was quite succesful in the 80’s at convincing people that Pepsi tasted better than Coke (the dominant brand) through blind test situations. They gained market shares against Coke.  I’m curious to see how succesful Microsoft will be with this strategy but it seems to make sense.

Update: it will be certainly called Bing. You can see the future logo here.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft Goes Pepsi Challenge against Google: Will it Work?

  1. I think that’s a very apt comparison. Search engines are a sort of commodity — most people don’t see a huge difference in the relative performance. So, it becomes a marketing, perception and brand challenge. Maybe it’s time to bring back John Scully!

  2. That would be cool, Microsoft showing you blind results from MSN, Yahoo! and Google and asking you which one you like the best. This couldn’t work if their new offer doesn’t return a list of blue links though.

  3. Yet another attempt to rebrand their search engine. Sounds like desperation. And as one commenter on Mashable’s coverage of the story put it “Why would they give up the name Live when real-time is the new search buzz-word?”

    @Eric Fredine: I think the fact that most computers come pre-packaged with Internet Explorer and the MSN Live search engine set as default home page yet most users quickly switch to Google speaks volumes about people’s perceptions of relative performance.

  4. @Stever absolutely agree about peoples perception on performance — Google has built an incredibly powerful brand. Not sure if the ACTUAL results are that different – but that doesn’t matter.

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