Is Live Search Cashback a game changer?

Folks at Search Engine Watch seem to think so, but even Microsoft is still trying to figure out the business model behind the shopping search program.

I was listening in on a conference call this morning where the folks from Search Engine Watch lavished praise on Microsoft's Live Search Cashback program.

"I think it is potentially a game changer," said Search Engine Watch's Kevin Heisler, speaking on a call organized by investment bank Collins Stewart. "It's really I think a brilliant move by Microsoft, Bill Gates, and his team."

Later in the call, Heisler went a step further, suggesting that the program could even be bigger than the government's economic stimulus program, in which most taxpayers are receiving a $600 check.

"Microsoft has potential to make an even bigger impact on the economy if this takes off," he said.

Hmm. That seems like a very bold prediction, especially since there is still so much that is unclear about the program. First and foremost, how does Microsoft make money at this?

As I noted early on, Microsoft is giving back to consumers 100 percent of the money it gets from advertisers once a sale is made. So, for now, Microsoft's plan is to benefit indirectly from the program--ideally by grabbing searchers and advertisers that are currently going to rivals.

But after talking further with people involved in the program, Microsoft apparently doesn't see that as a permanent promise. The company may at some point change that, taking a cut from the rebate and thereby creating an entirely different business proposition for itself.

Tech Culture
About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.


    Discuss Is Live Search Cashback a game changer?

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Articles from CNET
    NASA's Golden Record made for alien ears now on SoundCloud