People love Google so much so that the tech giant’s name is synonymous with search. But after years of dominating the market for internet queries, how much of their affection is blind brand loyalty?
Bing It On, the 21st century search equivalent to the Pepsi Challenge, aims to find out. Microsoft’s in-your-face web app bets would-be Googlers that, without branding, the long-maligned Bing search engine actually produces similar or favorable results to Google. Users are given the opportunity to search and rate five pairs of results (which don’t include brand clues like Google ads or Bing social search), letting them judge the merits of each engine without years of preconceived notions.
Microsoft provided data that demonstrated Bing was favored 2:1 over Google in a blind study to back up its shot across the bow, but its real aim is to get users to try the service for themselves. Google’s nearly untouchable brand has been so omnipresent in the modern internet age, luring prospective customers away for just five searches is an accomplishment in its own right. Ultimately, the strategy will most likely pay dividends for Bing, even if it’s unlikely to make a large dent in Google’s market share.
Here at Ripen, Google is still favored, with our own Bing It On results leaning towards the current top dog. That said, we’re big believers in the power of data and the importance of unbiased A/B testing. Bing might not be for everyone, but their campaign is a smart way to get search engine users (read: everyone) to see what their service can offer. After all, Coke may be #1, but plenty of people (somehow) prefer the taste of Pepsi.
Them’s fightin’ words, Microsoft
In tandem with the web app, Bing It On also includes a mildly obnoxious video advert (below) where MS marketers bet passers-by they’ll prefer Bing results. The stakes? An Xbox 360… for your shirt. While this stunt is clearly exaggerated for the purposes of the video, Microsoft announced a variety of real-world Bing It On events, where they’ll be giving out game consoles, Surface tablets, and other tie-in products to the upcoming Windows 8.
Microsoft is also encouraging the #bingiton hashtag for public discussion of the results. So far, accolades on Twitter are divided between Bing and Google, but that’s a lot better than just a few days ago, when Bing wasn’t even on the search engine map.
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