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The Marketing of Microsoft's Bing Search Engine

Posted by: Peter Burrows on June 1, 2009

Microsoft quietly turned on its new Bing search engine for public consumption today, two days earlier than expected. And guess what? People like it.

Microsoft’s marketing of Bing also seems to be off to a good start. Much has been made of the $80 million to $100 million they will spend on advertising—but so far Microsoft has garnered impressive attention for the product. Bing dominated the tech news on Friday, after CEO Steve Ballmer introduced it the day before at the D conference.

Now, comes the surprise early release of Bing (how often have you heard the words Microsoft and “early release” in the same sentence?). I’d been led to believe that wouldn’t happen until June 3, when Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division (and subject of our profile this week), will be interviewed by Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan. But sneaking Bing out there seems to have worked. Few knives seemed at the ready; instead, Bing seems to be getting a fairly dispassionate, mostly positive first round of reviews.

Now, get ready for the splashy, expensive part of the Bing offensive. “Relative to any sort of other Microsoft-level marketing effort, this is as big as they come,” says senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi, who is in charge of the effort. He says that if you combine the costs of advertising with the cost of distribution deals to make Bing the default browser on HP and Dell PCs and Verizon smart phones, and the outlays associated with the CashBack program that pays consumers to use its search product, then the Bing marketing campaign is roughly as expensive as the massive campaigns for Xbox game consoles or a Windows release.

In a general sense, it sounds like Microsoft’s ad campaign will mirror it’s I’m A PC ad campaign. While Jerry Seinfeld won’t be involved, the first few ads will be on the light-hearted side of things. At least one will be a humorous look at how a relationship with your significant other would be if were like one of today’s search engines—which often take far too long to answer your question accurately. A phase II of the campaign will focus more on features of Bing.

Reader Comments


June 3, 2009 12:35 AM

How will bing compete with the way google spiders sites and manages to get so much data for their searches by doing that? I already put a couple things to be searched that I know google has data on through programs like adsense and the bing search engine did not even have that data in theri search. So how will bing compete with that?

Jake Boren

June 3, 2009 12:58 AM

In the last paragraph I believe the word "it's" should simply be "its."

I think the rule is "it's" only means "it is."

"Its" is supposed to be used in all other instances.


June 3, 2009 1:07 AM

I don't like Bing--I love it! The video search with mouse-over preview rocks.


June 3, 2009 1:07 AM

Tried it...Meh...

Chris Burke

June 3, 2009 1:12 AM

"cost of distribution deals to make Bing the default browser on HP and Dell PCs"

Bing isn't a browser, it's a search engine.


June 3, 2009 1:21 AM

I tried some searches of known keywords on bing and was completely underwhelmed with the result. It misses a lot of key hits that Google finds. Ity also seems heavily biased towards commerce-type of hits. I'll stick with Google


June 3, 2009 1:22 AM

So far I like it. Something different on the Internet is always good. Feel the change!


June 3, 2009 1:24 AM

I dont see much of change from Live search results. Whatever maybe the glamour if you cant find the smaller sites, Bing will never be a big thing.


June 3, 2009 1:25 AM

In Bing, type in "google will kill microsoft" and hit enter. The first thing that pops up is "microsoft will kill google". Not what I was looking for. That's just a harBINGer of what's to come. Let Microsoft think for you-- NOT!

Jane Doe

June 3, 2009 1:25 AM

Uhhhh all search engines have 'spiders' similiar to googles. So you're question makes no sense.

I've been using it for the past day, and am impressed with it. Have you actually tried using it?


June 3, 2009 1:25 AM

I think it's funny that Bing is advertising through Google. Check out the sponsered websites:


June 3, 2009 2:00 AM

One more buggy release from Microsoft.

When I mouse over on video thumb I am getting flash player run time error.

Error #2044: Unhandled AsyncErrorEvent:. text=Error #2095: SmartPreviewNetStream was unable to invoke callback onMetaData. error=ReferenceError: Error #1069: Property onMetaData not found on SmartPreviewNetStream and there is no default value.
at SmartPreview()
at SmartPreview_fla::MainTimeline/frame1()


June 3, 2009 2:23 AM

They can compete with that, no prob there. But its too early on for what you're referring to. After more caching and refinement, it'll start to show. Although every bot has its own criteria and adjustments made to the data collections.


June 3, 2009 2:31 AM

Microsoft and Yahoo are crawling the web blindly, unlike Google with Google Analytics, Adsense, Adwords, and many more are the eyes and ears of their spider.

To catch up, Microsoft needs a powerful web analytic and made it free for all web masters, till then, it is hard to unseat Google.

Paul Lefrere

June 3, 2009 3:04 AM

Microsoft bought-in and badged some great technology, also are willing to take big losses (eg the cash-back program). Maybe the marketing blitz will bring them the market share they want. My first impressions were good: quick results, presented well. But then I spent some hours looking in detail across the Bing categories (airlines, hotels, medicine, ... ). And I compared notes with friends around the world. Impressionistically, Microsoft partners feature heavily in the search results. Taking care of your partners is a strategy that worked very well for Windows but seems crass and short term in search. Bing Is Not Google where it counts: trust. Can Bing be relied upon to lead people to low-cost vendors that are not part of the Microsoft ecosystem and do not pay commission? Google does that. Bing can help with an initial search. But until people know how it makes its decisions (on where to look and what to select), they will be unsure whether they can trust it. My own approach: I'll likely use Bing in parallel with Google for a quick cut at a search but will complete my search(and place my orders) using Google.

pranay bansal

June 3, 2009 5:29 AM

on what parameters the Bing is different from Google search capabilities or it's just to cut the market of google?

ken abbott

June 3, 2009 10:00 AM

I'm advertising on Bing, and getting good results.

Not Bill

June 3, 2009 10:33 AM

Don't know about you but I don't like being charged too much for an OS so the maker can pay computer makers to make Bing the default search engine and IE the default browser. Monopoly and bribery distorts the free market.


June 3, 2009 4:16 PM

I have been a solid Google user for years, however lately, I've been sorting through a lot of 'junk' in Google searches to find what I know is out there. Bing has truly impressed me. I tried several items that I was struggling to find with Google and Bing so far has delivered. I'm shocked Microsoft has launched something that seems to work like it should.


June 5, 2009 3:56 AM

if you get errors like
Error #2044: Unhandled AsyncErrorEvent:. text=Error #2095:

it just means you need a newer ( the latest) version of Flash Player


June 5, 2009 10:11 AM

June 3, 2009 01:25 AM

In Bing, type in "google will kill microsoft" and hit enter. The first thing that pops up is "microsoft will kill google"."

lol! that's pretty cool!

fight fire with fire!


June 19, 2009 5:05 AM

Dear pijatelji, allow me to greet all and I give my comment, thanks!

Microsoft has a huge river and Google Ocean and all rivers carry water and food in the ocean from the ocean without the salt that has no life. It is a natural law and that no man who will correct the mouth of a river or withhold water and food, ocean. Google is the biggest engine on the internet and it will remain, and the rest of the story and nagadanje, thank you and regards


June 28, 2009 2:17 PM

Jake Boren
Sorry, Jason. You are wrong. "it's" is used in the possessive tense here, thus requiring the apostraphe. Please read the book "Eat, Shoots, and Leaves" for a humorous look at punctuaton.

RE: June 3, 2009 12:58 AM
In the last paragraph I believe the word "it's" should simply be "its."

I think the rule is "it's" only means "it is."

"Its" is supposed to be used in all other instances.

grammar snob

August 14, 2009 1:55 AM

Sharon - you could not be more wrong about the proper use of "its" and "it's". It is you who should read a book on grammar. "Its" is always possessive and does not require an apostrophe. A spell check would not hurt you either.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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