Microsoft looks to buy way into search (again)

Microsoft is set on Wednesday to announce Live Search Cash Back, a program designed to offer hard cash to those that use the software maker's search engine to buy products.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Updated 11 p.m., with details from Microsoft's Live Search site.

REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft is looking to buy its way into search, and I'm not talking about Yahoo.

The software maker plans on Wednesday to launch a cash back program to those who buy things after using its search.

Microsoft has details of the program up on its Web site, including a list of frequently asked questions.

"We want to earn your loyalty and reward it with cashback savings for your everyday online shopping," Microsoft said. "We are 'The Search That Pays You Back!' "

As previously reported, Microsoft is due to show off its latest enhancements to its search product at the Advance 08 advertising conference here. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is set to offer the main address of the event on Wednesday. I hear the company has more than just the cash back effort up its sleeves.

In any case, it's not the first time Microsoft has tried to use financial incentives to boost its search share. It has run a number of programs including its Live Search Club that offer rewards for those that use its search.

The Live Search Club effort briefly boosted Microsoft's search market share last year, but the gains have proved short lived. Microsoft has been losing ground since then and has returned to a single digit share of the market.

The news was reported earlier Tuesday by Search Engine Watch and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

According to the reports, Live Search Cash Back, is based on Microsoft's acquisition last year of Jellyfish, which has been piloting such a program, the reports said. Jellyfish said on its Web site Tuesday night that it was "currently offline to perform necessary service upgrades and enhancements."

Meanwhile, there's still no word on Microsoft's other, more expensive effort to buy search market share.

It's worth noting the fact that to get cash back users have to create an account and be logged in, presumably becoming a more valuable advertising customer for Microsoft as well.

Do you think this helps or hurts Microsoft's credibility when it comes to search?