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Microsoft tells Google searchers to 'Bing it on'

Redmond's latest push to improve Bing's search share involves a new ad campaign and contest.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read

Microsoft is launching a new campaign in the U.S. today that it hopes will convince searchers accustomed to Googling that Binging is better.

Microsoft's contention is that it has improved the relevancy of its search results over the past few years, but that due to old search habits, many people never even give Bing a try. Microsoft commissioned Answers Research out of San Diego to do a study involving 1,000 people, which the company is touting as showing people prefer Bing results over Google's, 2-to-1.

With roughly 15 percent of U.S. search share -- 28 percent if you add in Yahoo's U.S. share (given that Microsoft's Bing is powering Yahoo search -- why is Microsoft continuing to obsess over gaining against Google?

"Share matters in terms of machine learning and to our online advertisers," said Stefan Weitz, senior director of Bing.

The "Bing It On Challenge," which is available at BingItOn.com, allows users to compare unbranded Web search results from Bing and Google side-by-side. For each of five search queries of a user's choosing, an online test will compare results from Bing and Google. Users can declare a winner or say it's a draw. Users can share their results via Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Microsoft is promoting the new campaign via nationwide TV and online ads starting tonight during MTV's Video Music Awards. It also plans to feature the campaign in its Microsoft retail stores and pop-up Bing It On Challenge "stations" across the U.S. Microsoft is using the hashtag #bingiton on Twitter to push the campaign, as well.

Redmond also is launching the Bing It On sweepstakes, with prizes including a Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, an Xbox 360 with Kinect for Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, a Windows Phone. To enter, users are required to tweet a designated Bing It On Challenge tweet. The sweepstakes will run until October 18, with more details available at http://www.bingsweeps.com.

The goal with the campaign, said Weitz, is simply "to get users to take a look again at Bing. We want them to see Google's magic secret search sauce isn't really so magic."

And in case you were wondering whether Mark Penn -- the big-name Washington pollster and strategist hired by Microsoft -- had a hand in the latest Bing campaign, Weitz said the answer is no. The Bing It On Challenge was already in process before Penn joined Microsoft in July, with one of his first charges being to work on growing Bing's share.