Monday, June 29, 2009


Google Still Wins with an 0-3-1 Record

So, what does Microsoft have to do with Bing to get people to make the switch away from their Google habit? Give them money? Oh wait, they have already tried that.

Catalyst Group of New York just did a small (sample size) but very in-depth study of Bing v. Google as reported in this article on TechCrunch, the results are pretty interesting.

The 12 person study group rated Bing higher than Google in three of the four categories, and basically tied Google in the fourth. Relevance of results was that fourth category, and perhaps this is why why Google isn't sweating a study like this even though Bing dominated in visual design, organization and filter features.

Why? Because Google knows that you need to beat them in every category in order to really put the hurt on them. And you probably need to do it convincingly. So, even though Bing put up a 3-1-1 record, they still lost this series in the eyes of the panel group.

Relevance is incredibly important, and probably the biggest reason why anyone would consider switching search engines in the first place. Google didn't invent the search engine, they simply made relevance so much better than their competitors that people had to check it out. Once they used Google, they started to fall in love with simple user interface, the easy ability to filter and organize results, the whole package.

Bing has 3/4 of the package. Not enough to entice folks to go through the hassle of removing that Google toolbar that has occupied their browser for the last four years and then find and install a Bing toolbar. Not enough to get people to start saying "Google is your friend" on Internet forums. Not enough to kep Bing on the lips of millions of consumers around the world once the launch marketing budget runs out.

But this wasn't the most interesting piece of the study to us. The TechCrunch article as well as a number of other outlets that reported on this missed one telling bit of visual info that could prove a thorn in Bing's financial side.

If you look at the heat maps below from the Catalyst study, take a look at where the primary focus was on the Google map vs. the Bing map.

Lots of eyes on the top 1-3 paid search listings on Google, but for Bing the eyes are drawn to the organic results. We had noted what seemed to be a dip in CTR and overall traffic for our Adcenter clients since Bing was launched, but we were willing to accept that this might only be because of the number of new people testing the service instead of doing their daily search chores so to speak.

Now, after seeing these results, we aren't so convinced. Google is really good at making money from Adwords, and they know how to feature a high bid ad in order to get the highest CTR. Simple enough to copy for Microsoft with Bing. But, did they not get this memo, or is it a strategic decision made to sacrifice short-term Adcenter profitability to garner greater market share?

Our clients aren't to upset at this point, because they have seen a lift in organic results from Bing so far. And conversions resulting from free traffic are an ROI pleaser to say the least. But, what will this mean to Adcenter if it is a substantial impact? Is this an actual strategy or just indicative of the new Bing UI?

We will be watching this one to find out.


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