Is Microsoft’s Bing Advertising Campaign a Waste of Shareholder Money, Bordering on Window Dressing?

Situation: Microsoft is Advertising Heavily on Google in Attempt to Win Share for it’s Bing–it’s newly branded search engine.

Since they compete head to head, and it’s a zero sum game in this scenario, it’s apparent to me that someone’s making a bad decision. Specifically, I believe one of the following two scenarios is taking place: 1) Microsoft is taking advantage of Google’s underpriced advertising and is successfully acquiring customers at Google’s direct expense OR 2) Microsoft is overpaying for advertising and not acquiring customers at <= their worth

From data I’ve gathered, I strongly believe 2) is taking place. In my humble opinion, this is another case where a big company is performing “window dressing” to make their company look more competitive than it is. Some would say they are spending SHAREHOLDER money to impress shareholders instead of using shareholder money to make them money.

The Hard Evidence: 1) From observation, Microsoft is advertising with mediocre branded campaigns in attempt to change someone’s behavior. The following evidence explains why: CASE 1) Microsoft is advertising on Google owned properties like YouTube

Bing and Decide Ad

Bing and Decide Ad

2) People who click go here:

Okay great! I’m looking at a Youtube video. Am I in the headspace to begin searching just because you say “From now on Bing & Decide?” No. Consumers don’t CARE! They CARE about ACCURATE, FAST, and RELEVANT search.

CASE 2: Microsoft is massively overtaking internet inventory, paying well-above market prices to ensure huge delivery.  In fact, Microsoft launched a huge company on several big properties including Facebook to ensure it could guarantee its delivery.  Some would argue that’s fine at face value.  However, it wasn’t necessary for them to do this.  In reality, for example, the could have easily paid the market price like everyone else and bought a similar volume of impressions spread out over more days. There was plenty of inventory for them to buy without resorting to this.   (Note: I believe I’m not explaining this as eloquently as possible but I’m in a rush).

CASE 3: Bing lacks a solid retention program to be effective. Okay. So, I’ve searched on Now what?

On their landing page, they have a small blended-grey text that says “Add Bing to your browser.” The truth is that many Americans simply will glance over it.

Parting words (I want to wrap this up quickly and get back to work)…

Yes, there are several other companies who are smoking Microsoft in their ability to attract new search clients. It’s also easy for me to sit here and criticize without providing examples of companies who are outperforming them. I’ll finish that part later and/or upon request.

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