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Microsoft kicks off huge Bing ad push

The software maker is counting on a TV ad blitz to get people to think of something other than just Google when they go to do a Web search.

Microsoft faces several tough problems in trying to market Bing, its revamped search engine.

The first issue, is of course, that Google has become essentially synonymous with search.

"Google is so much a part of everyday culture," said Danielle Tiedt, general manager for marketing in Microsoft's online unit. "It is the verb. If you talk about search you talk about Google."

The second issue, also a thorny one, is that people tend to think they are pretty happy with search. When they have problems, they tend not to blame their search engine or look for alternatives, Tiedt said.

"We know there is this latent dissatisfaction in the search market," Tiedt said. "When people don't get right search result they thing it's their fault."

Microsoft's huge TV ad campaign, which kicks off on Wednesday, aims to put a name to the problem and pitch Bing as the answer.

"A big part of the campaign is 'It's not just you'," Tiedt said. The ads will run first on CBS' "CSI: New York" and Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance." (Disclosure: CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.)

Bing started to be publicly available on Monday, but officially launches Wednesday, following months of development and internal testing. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the company's effort last week at the D: All Things Digital event in Carlsbad, Calif.

Microsoft isn't saying just how much it is spending on the ad campaign, though advertising trade magazines have estimated it at between $80 million and $100 million.

"Obviously, we are spending a significant amount of money," Tiedt said. "We're trying to get entered into the conversation of search. We are spending enough money that people (will) have heard of us."

The initial video spot will run for about two weeks, followed by more lighthearted ads that try to illustrate the challenges of search today. The next wave of ads, Tiedt said, are dramatizations of what it would be like if people had to talk to their partners or friends the way they do to a search engine. They get back responses that have the same words as their question, but nothing at all to do with what they asked.

Next month, Microsoft will start doing more product-specific TV ads that look at specific areas such as travel search.

An online ad push also starts Wednesday, with Bing ads on the front of The ads will move throughout the Web and Microsoft is also doing some things on Facebook and Twitter, including a photo contest where the community will get to choose a winning photo to become the backdrop for Bing itself on a particular day.

The TV spots are being done by JWT, while Microsoft's Razorfish unit created the online ads.