Microsoft loves to launch ad campaigns against its No. 1 enemy, Google, and now it is embarking on yet another for Christmastime, called “Don’t Get Scroogled“, that places the Google Shopping experience under a microscope.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, lambasted Google today and alerted consumers of Mountain View’s pay-to-rank system for shopping results. Here’s an excerpt from the “Don’t Get Scroogled: Bing Launches Campaign for Honest Search to Help Shoppers this Holiday Season” blog post on Bing’s community website:
“Specifically, we want to alert you to what Google has done with their shopping site right in time for Christmas. Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results for the latest coffee maker you’re looking to buy mom, Google Shopping now decides what to show you – and how prominently to display what product offers they show — based partially on how much the merchant selling the product has paid them. Merchants can literally pay to improve their chances to display their product offers higher than others inside of Google’s shopping “search,” even if it’s not better or cheaper for the consumer. The result of this new “pay-to-rank” system is that it’s easy for consumers to mistake an ad for an honest search. That’s not right, it’s misleading. It’s not what you expect from search, and it’s not how we at Bing think search engines should help consumers get the best prices and selection when shopping.”
The Redmond, Wash.-based search engine basically said shoppers who use Google for their shopping searches are “getting ‘Scroogled’ when they should be getting fair, honest, open search.” Bing then compared Google Shopping to Ebenezer Scrooge and noted, “We think consumers should be aware what they’re seeing when they’re shopping online and to understand, without any hidden text or traps, the fine print of what their ‘search engine’ actually searches.”
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Microsoft’s blog post goes on for quite sometime, making accusations and suggesting folks use Bing to find the best deals during the holiday season and beyond. The nugget, though, is the campaign effort in which Bing attempts to highlight its commitment to “real search” by explaining “the risks that come from Google’s paid ads that look like search.”
Bing specifically said it hopes the campaign effort will help consumers understand Google Shopping’s practice, but it really just wants to lure consumers to its search engine:
So for this holiday season, we just want to make sure shoppers know that when searching for that perfect gift for Cousin Harry on Google Shopping, the results they are seeing are partially optimized to benefit Google’s revenue, not a shopper’s pocketbook. If this practice has you concerned, then please try Bing for an honest search.
Microsoft further set up a little website at www.scroogled.com with an accompanying video, quotes that demonized Google, and a link to Bing’s Facebook so consumers could “vent now.” The website also invited folks to try Bing and make it their homepage.
So, we took Bing Shopping for a spin and searched for “iPod Touch”:
Conclusion: Bing’s search still pales in comparison—even though it doesn’t take payments.