Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
bribes, search


Dear Microsoft: Bribing Users Faster Still Probably Won't Help Much

from the nice-try,-though dept

We noted last month that Microsoft was stepping up its program to bribe users to use its search engine, and that process continues with the announcement that Microsoft is adjusting the program to provide the cashback award immediately, rather than making users wait for it. Yet, as PC World notes, this whole effort to bribe users has done nothing to improve Microsoft's marketshare in search. In fact, its marketshare has decreased, as both Yahoo's and Google's marketshare has increased. Perhaps it's time to try a different strategy.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Frosty840, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 2:59am

    Why would you trust Microsoft's search results?

    Given that MS are so famous for trying to squeeze every last drop of revenue from their users (well, at least they were before they started paying people to use their software), I made the simple assumption many years ago that Microsoft's top search results would be there because they had paid to be there, and not because the results themselves were in any way connected to what I was searching for.

    A quick look at MS's search results for "Tsar Bomba" (because I've just had a conversation about it) reveals, well, crap results. And a load of "sponsored sites" results that were no use to me, but which had paid to be there.

    In comparison, Google's results were no less crap, but were presented in a more attractive way and didn't have the irrelevant shopping site results.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Brandon Boyce, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 4:43am

    Use it just for the cash back

    The only time I touch Live search is for the cash back on ebay. I wouldn't even try to use it for something productive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 4:49am

    Will search even rely on a certain sites in the future?

    Echoing the first comment, I have never been too impressed with the results from MS; moreover Google and Yahoo do not seem to be producing effective results either.

    Could it be that search may be heading in new directions? I can type a word into my address bar in Firefox to produce results, or I could use related links option for more search results. Outside of the major sites, there are many alternative search engines, like Hakia, which are producing good results. For example, if I am looking for a technical journal in a German library, I could go to the search site zdb, to find the result that I need. Google seems to rely to heavily on Wikipedia (I guess Knol is not there yet).

    I wonder if part of Google's dominance is due to sites using the search function supplied by AdSense. If this is a growing trend, it may be that other search development firms could step in to compete. Somehow I think that this may not be the case. We are just to use to "googling", that most of us do not consider the alternatives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Leans_To_Center, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:22am

    Don't bet on it

    We may be used to Google just now, but everyone was used to Altavista once, everyone was used to Yahoo once, everyone was used to Lycos ones, because at the time those were offering the best search results.

    Right now Google is offering the best search results, but the Internet works against them relying on people just being used to it.

    If some other search engine is really good, you're going to email people and they will give it a try, they email people and so on and so fourth. I remember clearly when that very thing happened with Google, it can happen again just as quick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Ima Fish, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Google has a very week spot, which if exploited, could bring its downfall. The week spots are those annoying parked spam sites that somehow manage to get into the top ten results, despite having very little relationship to the search result. What's really bad are those bizarre Chinese based sites that are primarily written in Chinese with a few nonsensical English terms. How in the frick do these sites come up in the top ten?!

    If a search engine could get rid of those, which would seem pretty easy to me, I'd switch from Google. Just like I switched from Yahoo, to hotbot, to Altavista.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Nathania, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 6:32am

    I think this is a bit disingenuous. Live Search's Cashback program has been a success for the goals that they set for the program. Microsoft made clear earlier in the year that they are seeking to perfect certain search niches, as evidenced by their acquisitions related to search (i.e. Farecast).

    Also, overall search share does not equal revenues. Yahoo may have increased search share (barely, I might add), but they are hurting right now big time.

    What matters for vendors in search is the profitable niches/searches.

    I also think you guys should be smarter than to jump on the dump on Microsoft bandwagon. Plenty of companies use incentives to attract customers. Where's the post criticizing Apple for bribing users with discounts last week?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 7:27am

    I looked at the article with some interest (I am always happy to receive free cash) and found that the instant cashback is only for ebay purchases!

    Cool, I buy shit-loads of stuff from ebay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 8:44am


    Wow! How can I become a part of the best web search that money can buy?

    Microsoft can't get grassroots support, so they create astroturf support.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Wait... you mean there is another search engine besides Google?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Freedom, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 9:52am

    Make a better search engine and they will come...

    I end up working a ton of systems and reloading mine on a regular basis. As such, I often get trapped into the default Live Search and it drives me nuts. While not scientific, it seems to me that every search I do in LIVE never returns the results I want. In contrast, Google almost always does.

    Maybe it is because I'm searching on technical related stuff and Live is geared towards it, but whatever the reason, make a search engine that finds what I want and you don't have to bribe me - I'll be there! On the flip side, bribe me to have a look, and give me bad results and I'll never come back.

    One example that I always get a kick out of is that I can search for various Microsoft KB article info better via Google than I can using Microsoft Search Engines.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 11:57am

    > Perhaps it's time [for M$] to try a different strategy.

    Mike, shut up please, I'm trying to make some money (off M$) here :-b

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Ben, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    Don't be ridiculous

    So is splitting adSense revenue with users actually a bribe to get Google ads on more sites?

    According to Merriam-Webster, bribe is defined:
    1 : money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
    2 : something that serves to induce or influence

    The first is clearly not the case. The second is so broad as to apply to nearly everything humans do. I think your use of the word bribe is just bait.

    As advertising revenues fluctuate, looking into other revenue and enticement models only makes sense. It's naive to assume that only advertising is the one, true, approved way of making money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    King Cheetah, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    CEO has powerful brain like 43rd President. Don't underestimate this guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Dan, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 12:18am

    two points:
    1. Google just works better
    2. When has M$ ever done anything that didn't have a devious, self serving and sometimes sinister ulterior motive as it's purpose. Their reputation invokes trust issues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Henry David, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 11:30am

    Tsar Bomba

    As someone who is looking to buy a Tsar Bomba for 20% off on eBay, worked great for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    ben, Dec 11th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    i used live for little bit

    i was looking for my first dslr and i figured that if MS was going to give me $$$ back i should use live for a little bit. so i used it to do my research on the camera (nikon d40) and what ebay sotre to buy from (ended up being cameta). and now i dont feel too bad about getting a check for $183 in the mail in two months.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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