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Many of the millions of consumers shopping this holiday season will turn to the world's most popular search engine, Google, in search of the perfect gift at the perfect price.
But Microsoft has a message for those consumers: be careful, you might get Scroogled.
To convey that message, Microsoft has launched scroogled.com, which warns consumers that Google Shopping isn't what it seems:
Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these "Product Listing Ads" a "truly great search."
We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled.
Microsoft's call to action, not surprisingly, encourages visitors to perform their shopping searched through Bing Shopping. "For an honest search result, try Bing" the site recommends.
While it's unlikely that scroogled.com will put a dent in the number of searches performed on Google Shopping, Microsoft's effort is interesting because it is arguably one of the company's most aggressive marketing assaults on Google yet.
On scroogled.com, Microsoft doesn't just call Google out on its new Google Shopping business model, it suggests that, more broadly, the search giant has turned its back on its founders' 'Do No Evil' pledge. The Redmond software company quotes Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as Google SEC filings. And it features quotes from the New York Times articles, including "The relationship between Google and Web sites, publishers and advertisers often seems lopsided, if not unfair" and "But Google is walking a tricky line, which antitrust regulators are watching closely."
Is Microsoft being hypocritical?
The use of the latter quote hints at an obvious fact: Microsoft wouldn't shed a tear if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pursues an anti-trust case against Google. Such a case has been widely rumored to be on the way.
But while scroogled.com is evidence that Microsoft has some marketing chutzpa, it might want to ensure that it's picking the right fight. As Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan points out, Bing Shopping functions much the same way as Google Shopping, with merchants having the ability to purchase "higher visibility."
With that in mind, Google could easily hit Microsoft with a clever site of its own (dinged.com anyone)? Of course, given Google's continued search dominance, it probably won't be making that a priority any time soon.