Microsoft has decided to leave no stone unturned in the race to improve its position in the search marketing field. During the companyâ€™s annual digital ad conference, on Wednesday, it was announced that Microsoft would pay cash to U.S.-based customers for shopping on the new Live Search Cashback site.
The amount of money being offered will vary from 2% to 30%, on different items being sold through various etail outlets. This move is an obvious attempt by Microsoft to convince its advertisers that Live Search can beat Google in the search engine advertising game.
Chairman Bill Gates believes that online search has just begun to get competitive, and has promised big announcements in the industry every six months.
Online shoppers who buy anything from Microsoft’s 700+ partners via the Live Search Cashback site will be eligible for a certain percentage refund on the purchase. The percentage cashback is clearly indicated alongside each of the 700+ million items. Cash back payments will be made through PayPal, by cheque or directly into the customer’s bank account.
Retail brands that have signed up for this programme include Barnes and Noble, Home Depot and Sears. The cashback percentage offered on the same item varies across different suppliers, as can be seen in the example below:
Google currently holds 60% share of the search market in the USA, while Microsoft is a distant third with only about 10% market share. Expectedly, this campaign has generated both positive and negative reviews from various quarters. Some believe that even a cashback policy will not improve Microsoft’s position, because the services of Google are far superior. Others believe that this is an interesting idea and may be able to lure away at least some of Google’s users who may be susceptible to bribes or rebates, especially during a recession.
Cash is the one thing Microsoft has plenty of. Perhaps using this cash to lure searchers away from Google might serve Live Search better than trying to buy other struggling companies like Yahoo! or even just the Yahoo! Search and marketing platform.
Microsoft is also enticing advertisers and retailers to its own platform by changing the working pattern commonly followed: Advertisers usually pay on a cost per click basis, but now Microsoft is offering a cost per acquisition model – that is, advertisers will pay only for actual sales made through Microsoft’s search services.
This is not the first time Microsoft have used monetary rewards to lure searchers. The first time reeked of desperation. But it must have worked, since they are at it again. Even if Microsoft does succeed in luring some users away from Google with this cash back rewards, will they be able to hold on to these customers after the scheme is withdrawn?