Definitely one for this year’s ‘the horse has bolted‘ award – Microsoft in their wisdom decided to run a Search Engine taste test. The so-called BingItOn campaign looks like it’s finished now (BingItOn links all redirect back to Bing – with 302s no less) but not before Microsoft managed to announce the amazing result that people prefer Bing results 2 to 1 over Google. I was hoping for some further updates, but the (perhaps ironically named) Search Quality blog is yet to deliver…
It’s a sad day when Bing wastes money like this, especially when Michael Kordahi did the same thing so much better back in 2009, and RustyBrick did a similar thing back in 2005. Back then things like personalisation and location were much smaller influences on search engine results. These days, search experience is so personalised that different people see vastly different results for the same searches. Not only that, but the additional snippets that show in normal search engines are excluded (as Darren notes well here). When I was testing with it a few days back the results from searches (both Google and Bing) were all disappointing – I felt as though search technology had gone back in time… which of course it had, with its vanilla, limited results. Bing It On results did for search results what the Geocitiesizer does for web design. By the way here’s Bing after they’ve received the Geo treatment :-)
Which makes this kind of blind search test such a useless exercise. The Bing team knows this of course, so you have to wonder why they bothered… One can only imagine it’s a combination of desperation and KPI madness – somewhere, someone is getting a nice KPI status report this month after the hungry tech sites lapped it up yet again. Every day is a slow news day it seems.
The only positive from this is that Microsoft is getting better at marketing and PR. They can take a tired, unoriginal idea, and manage to make a campaign out of it that gets traction in the tech press. Their contacts and timing are improving.
I’m looking forward to Microsoft doing something really inspiring with Bing one day and having that get the coverage it deserves. We live in hope.