What does $100 million advertising budget and mountains of PR get you? If you’re Microsoft launching a new search engine, the answer is becoming clearer. In its first month on the job, Bing has raised Microsoft’s search market share by 0.3pts to 6.5%. That might not seem like much, but keep in mind two key points.
First, Bing’s major gains came in the last week of June. Microsoft started TV advertising for Bing earlier in the month, but ad viewers may have taken a few exposures to get the message.
Second, June was a down month for search engines across the board. The overall search market fell by 1.7% and Google lost 0.9% query volume. The Live/Bing tag team, unlike every other search engine, served up more queries last month than it did in May — 19 million more to be exact.
In other words, Bing was the only bright spot in an otherwise rough June for search.
Bing also raised Microsoft’s rate of Sponsored Referrals to 5.6%, as expected. In June, Bing yielded 80% more "paid clicks" than MSN/Live did in May.
Let me repeat that: Bing yielded 80% more "paid clicks" last month than MSN/Live did in May. Given this fact, it’s highly likely that Bing will raise Microsoft’s overall search revenue, even though revenue per paid click may go down.
But praise has stopped short of handing Bing the gold in user experience, with reviewers pointing out that Bing borrows many features from Google and Ask. In a head-to-head matchup, Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land wrote, "Bing isn’t 50% better than Google."
Now everyone knows the true test of Bing begins after Microsoft’s ad campaign wraps up.
And observers are right to be skeptical. A couple of years ago, IAC also spent $100 million on advertising Ask. Today, Ask holds on to its meager market share for dear life, having slipped 13.3% over the past year.
To grossly misquote the Talking Heads, "after the money’s gone" will it be "same as it ever was"?