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.