Microsoft may have received heckles when the company announced plans to spend $100 million advertising its new search engine Bing. But two month into that outlay, Microsoft's paid click share is up 44% and that spend is starting to look less laughable.

Why? Because search dominance is as much about performance as it is about perception. And getting people to think you have the best search engine is basically the same thing as having the best search engine. The trouble is that's easier said than done.

Microsoft is not naive about the power of market dominance. If a mass of consumers use your product, new consumers are more likely to turn to it as well. The software giant has this reason to thank (mostly) for its continued success with Microsoft Office. There are other products out there that do similar tasks either comprably or better. But time and again, companies and individuals fork over the fee for Microsoft's office applications.

In search, Microsoft wants to break old habits. That's an uphill battle when your competitor's name is synonymous with search. But Microsoft is betting is big pockets that it can make a dent in Google's business.

According to Efficient Frontier their plans are working:

"We last reported a 13% increase in paid click share for Microsoft. Our data now shows that as of the first week in August, Bing has lifted their click share 44% since the beginning of June. They did particularly well in both the Travel and Finance categories showing an 11% and 22% click share lift in these categories."

Efficient Frontier found that the increase in clickshare for Bing was mostly at the detriment of Google, which lost 1.4% of its own share whilst Yahoo lost 0.63%. They also attribute the increase to perception of the brand.

“The $100 million marketing budget for the launch of Bing alongside its new look and feel has obviously has some effect on the number of searches performed on the engine,” said Client Services Director at Efficient Frontier, Jonathan Beeston.

Why is that? Because consumers are loyal to products they are used to. This week, Microsoft received some press from its blind search tool. Consumers can go on the site and choose which results they prefer without getting distracted by logos. Surprise! Google doesn't always come out on top when consumers are ignorant of which engine is Google's.

From Microsoft's ad campaign to the way it is positioning Bing, the company is hoping that it can shift consumer perception on search. Findings like today's prove that there is room for Microsoft to grow in search. But Microsoft still has a lot of work to do if it wants to make any consistent headway into Google's 67% share of the market. And unfortunately for them, Google isn't just going to sit idly by as Microsoft tries to assert its new found search competence.

Meghan Keane

Published 12 August, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (2)



misleading headline ... 44% from a small base in nothing for their $100 million investment ... they cannot spend and near that rate moving forward ... write this article when they are 44% up next year on no marketing spend ... that is when you have true adoption from a marketing perspective ... plus search is about usability, ease of use not perception

almost 9 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy


It will take awhile to see if Microsoft's advertising (and their search engine) is working. But search choices absolutely have to do with perception. Most Google users go there out of habit. They're not out checking Google's algorithms every day. The fact that Google does not always win in a blind search test proves that there is room for a competitor to win marketshare. But the burden is still on Microsoft to convince web searchers that they can do a better job than Google.

almost 9 years ago

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