Commentary
7/22/2008
02:07 PM
Roger Smith
Roger Smith
Commentary

If You Pay Them, They May Come

Microsoft, long stuck in third place behind Google and Yahoo, seems to have found a strategy able to help it make some headway in the search engine wars with the newly launched Live Search cashback site that gives advertisers and users of its search engine cash-back savings on online purchases.



Microsoft, long stuck in third place behind Google and Yahoo, seems to have found a strategy able to help it make some headway in the search engine wars with the newly launched Live Search cashback site that gives advertisers and users of its search engine cash-back savings on online purchases.Much derided in the blogosphere when it went live on May 22, the Live Cashback search product helped Microsoft's overall search share climb to 9.2% in June, a gain of 15 percentage points over the prior month, according to data from the research group ComScore released last week. The company's search share improved, while Google and Yahoo stayed flat at 61% and 21%, respectively.

On the product search site, any of the products found by using the Microsoft search engine can be bought for a certain percentage off the cheapest price that comes up from a variety of stores participating in the Live Search cashback promotion. (Advertisers only pay per purchase, not per click.) For example, a Sony 32-inch digital LCD HDTV is available on the Live Search cashback site from $693.66 to $1,149.06 from 8 different online retailers, with Microsoft offering rebates from 2% to 7% off those prices, depending on the store. To get the money, you need to sign up for an account and provide Microsoft with your address, e-mail, and phone number so the company can communicate and send your refund to you.

On the heels of its on-again, off-again $40-billion-plus acquisition bid for Yahoo, Microsoft has been looking for ways to increase its share of the Web search and advertising market dominated by Google. The Live Cashback search promotion is the latest tit-for-tat with Google, which over the past few years has been building an impressive free online suite of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software to compete with Microsoft's flagship Office products. While it may be too early to declare the Live Cashback search product a winner, it seems to have halted the drop in Microsoft's core domestic search market share, which has slid from 10% to 8.5% share over the past six months.

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