If all else fails – Throw $100 Million at the problem

by Peter Young on April 4, 2009 · 0 comments

According to Advertising Age, Microsoft are looking at throwing between $80 and $100 Million to try and wrestle market search marketing share away from Yahoo and Google. The work is expected to be given to to WPP agency, JWT and Crispin Porter & Bogusk. The campaign is expected to see iterations on multiple channels including online, TV, print and radio executions.

According to the release on adAge

According to one person close the situation, the forthcoming campaign will be careful to not position “Kumo” as a competitor to Yahoo or Google and instead cast it as a reimagined search engine that ups the game by yielding fewer but more-focused results. The proposed strategy is probably a good — if not the only — way to go.

Many search-industry watchers say the only way to challenge Google, the current category leader, will be to present something markedly different. The thing is, at first glance, screenshots of “Kumo” don’t look too different from the current search format used by most major search engines: organic search results in the main part of the page, with sponsored links across the top and the right side. The new Microsoft interface does appear to have some interesting filtering features, both in the organic-results area and along the left side of the page, to help searchers drill down into more specific topics.

As previous experience will tell us, significant spending on advertising is not a guarantee of success. Ask.com have spent significant amounts on above the line advertising in the past, with limited (and varying degrees of success). It is therefore not a given that this shift in spend to focus on the search product will indeed bear any fruits, and given them any traction within the search marketplace.

Indeed, success in my opinion may lie elsewhere, and even closer to home. Microsoft themselves have launched a number of innovative new products and solutions in the last couple of months, something which may provide the key to greater market share. Products such as Cash Back and some of the other new products/features may help gartner greater usaage of the search engine, however greater uptake is going to rely heavily on the quality of the search product – particularly when compared to the Google product itself which has seen some significant enhancements over the last couple of weeks.

Commentators suggest a more successful approach may be to partner with Yahoo, however whether this is enough to compete against Google is a different question. In my personal opinion the biggest battleground is that for second and third place . Is the $100 million enough to compete against Google – no. Is it enough to help compete against Yahoo – possibly. Only time will tell.

Other articles on this subject:

Microsoft to throw $100 million at their search market share problem – Search Engine Land

[The views in this post are those of Peter Young, and not necessarily those of his employers]

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