With Bing, Microsoft has achieved far more in search than many believed it was capable of. But just because Microsoft has managed to beat lowered expectations doesn’t mean that Bing is doing for Microsoft what it hoped it would.

Citing a lack of the “broad adoption that we had hoped for“, Microsoft announced Friday that it was shuttering Bing Cashback, which was a big part of Bing’s shopping vertical search.

As the name implies, Bing users who used Cashback to make purchases through participating online retailers received cash back on those purchases from Microsoft. When Microsoft launched Bing Cashback the motivation was clear: by giving affiliate referral fees it generated back to shoppers, Microsoft might be able to lure consumers to Bing and keep them coming back for more.

Judging from the comments expressing disappointment at Microsoft’s decision to terminate Bing Cashback on July 30, it appears that Bing Cashback did acquire loyal fans. But apparently not enough of them to convince Microsoft that the return was worthwhile.

Does this mean that Microsoft is giving up on shopping-related search? According to Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s SVP of the Online Audience Business Group:

Shopping remains one of the most important tasks people engage in while using
search, and we remain committed to delivering great shopping experiences for you
that help you make better shopping decisions, get great deals, and save time and
money along the way. For merchants and advertisers, we have some ideas for
making it easy to get a broader array of products and offers into Bing, and
we’ll share some details on this later this summer.

While it will be interesting to see what Microsoft cooks up next in this area, one has to wonder: if Microsoft couldn’t obtain the type of adoption it had hoped for by enticing consumers with cash back, how will it drive adoption when it isn’t paying them to use Bing?

Photo credit: Neubie via Flickr.