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Guest Post: Terry Whalen of CPC Search Tells Us Why Rumors of Bing's Ascendance Are Greatly Overrated!

Published: June 22, 2009

Author: David Rodnitzky

Though I like some of the features in Bing, I don’t have much faith that Bing is going to overtake Google in search market-share, or even put much of a dent in Google’s share over the long run. And I’m not alone in this assessment. My good friend Terry Whalen from CPCSearch has graciously agreed to share his perspective on Bing with Blogation’s readers. Here’s his thoughts:

Microsoft’s $100 million ad spend seems to have done a great job so far in attracting interest and search queries to their new search engine, Bing. In terms of recent market share, many search industry data sources are reporting as much as a 50% gain in market share for Bing, from about 8% of search queries to about 12%. According to figures from Compete.com, that equates to roughly 550 million additional queries. If we use standard web ad metrics, this equates to a cost/click of $.20 ($100,000,000/550,000,000). Good job on the ad buy, Microsoft. You’ve generated buzz and also a very significant amount of searchers to Bing.

Can this trend hold? We think not. Microsoft’s history in online, in our opinion, is one of playing a game of catch-up, and generally playing it poorly. When it comes to the Internet, Microsoft copies others’ efforts, and usually does quite a mediocre job of it. Bing is no different – they have copied Google’s search page almost exactly. Even the color of the premium sponsored ads at the top of the page are shaded orange, just as Google’s are. But one doesn’t need to look for long to see the silliness of Microsoft to shine through. A sponsored ad goes to 3 lines and looks amateurish (screenshot below). The #2 organic result for the query ‘php developers’ is for the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is billed as “your source for information about using PHP with Yahoo! Web Services APIs. It would be a very, very small minority of searchers for this phrase that would care about this specific topic, yet it’s the second result.

We think that the buzz will die down, and Bing’s market share will trend back toward where it has been. If, in the unlikely event Bing.com were to grab and keep a large share of the search market, Advertisers would be much, much worse off. This is because pay-per-click marketing is a self-service activity. The advertiser interface provided by the search platform is key to enabling the advertiser to achieve positive ROI on a worthwhile scale. Google does a brilliant job at this, and yet it strives all the harder to improve its advertiser interface. Microsoft’s AdCenter interface is laughably bad. My colleague and I considered not using “laughably” as an adjective here, but we both decided we had to, for truth in blogging. In addition to an overall horrible interface, AdCenter’s conversion tracking system is unable to report on revenue from ecommerce transactions. A related question: guess who constitutes a major category of keyword advertisers? Drumroll…that’s right – ecommerce companies.

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