Back in ye olden days of the internet, search engines were a dime a dozen. Before there was a dominant name in web search, the likes of AltaVista, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo, etc. were all used to find content on the web. Users didn’t have a clear cut choice for finding GeoCities .gif-filled eyeball-injuring atrocities back then. Times have changed. These days, most websites no longer look like this, and when you think of online search, you think of Google. Unless you’re different.
And even if you are different, there is no disputing that Google is numero uno in the search world. According to comScore, Google’s search activity market share was 67.5% in February of 2013. Its biggest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, hit a historic high of 16.7%. The rest are barely worth mentioning.
Let’s be clear. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bing, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you prefer Bing. In fact, Microsoft and Bing are pretty confident in their goods. Enough so that they’ve unleashed a new website that pits both Google and Bing head-to-head in a search off competition. Bing it on!
Using a method similar to the age old “taste test” ad campaign, Microsoft is trying to convince web users that theirs is the better product. You visit the website, perform a series of searches (by typing in the search terms that come to mind), and you’ll get side-by-side results from Bing and Google. Of course, you’re not told which is which. Users vote on the set of search results they prefer. Perhaps you think the sites displayed on the left are more relevant to your search term than the ones shown on the right. Maybe you don’t care — you can choose that it’s a draw. Whatever the case may be, after five votes, the final results are shown. Microsoft is hoping that this will show up more often than not:
Even if that isn’t the case, putting out an ad campaign communicating to consumers that more people prefer Bing could indeed sway a few people away from Google.
Are you convinced?
In truth, most people aren’t. Just think about those market shares percentages. Google dominates. But is it really the best search engine? Here are findings from a Butler University study.
Search engines with a higher intelligence index returned better, more relevant local results. Notice how Google isn’t at the top here. In fact, true to their claim, Microsoft’s Bing does actually score higher. Actually, according to what we see above, we may as well all start using ChaCha, which provides “human powered” answers to search queries.
Or maybe not..
Name and brand recognition is a very powerful thing. People are willing to limit themselves to an inferior product if they feel comfortable with the brand it’s associated with. This isn’t to say that Google is a bad search engine. It’s just that, despite its popularity, it may not be the best. That “bing” said, if there was an alternative that was truly much better, word of mouth would get around, and people would likely make the switch. So there may be marginally better choices for online search out there, but the average person is most likely going to stick with Google, because it’s what everyone is using. We can continue to watch market share percentages month after month, but something tells me this campaign by Bing won’t be making much of a dent in Google’s dominance any time soon. Microsoft is probably better off investing in the research and development of a game-changing solution for search. Coming up with the big, new thing isn’t easy, but that’s really how brand wars are won.
What are your thoughts? Share a comment below or contact a BBEX project manager to discuss.