I can be a bit glib, and even flip, sometimes. I admit it.
My confessional mode is brought on by Microsoftâ€™s ad campaign starting today (Friday Oct 27, 2006) trying once again to boost their search engine capacity. And what I have to confess is that in a recent article. I dismissively referred to MSN Search as appearing really low on the totem pole of engines, especially when it comes to directing traffic toward internet shopping sites. My fine editors here at E-Commerce Partners rightly answered my own cheap rhetorical question â€œdoes anyone remember MSN as a search engine? â€“ at all?â€ with a resounding â€œYes. We doâ€.
The editors expanded by saying:
â€œSince we are partly a search marketing company we are well aware that MSN is part of the big 3 of search, though a very small partâ€
Quite right. And now Microsoft is trying hard to increase that â€œvery small partâ€ at the expense of the other big Two, Google and Yahoo.
Its ad, created by the advertising agency McCann WorldGroup, is promoting Windows Live, which formally launched in September and is intended to eventually replace MSN Search — itself less than two years old — as Microsoft’s flagship in the search business.
They have a ways to go. Despite a massive, expensive campaign last year â€“ said at the time to be the companyâ€™s biggest media-buying effort since the launch of the MSN â€œButterflyâ€ branding in 2000 – MSN Search just hasn’t been able to gain any real traction with consumers. Last month, Microsoft sites garnered 11.9% of searches — down from 15.6% the year before, according to the digital ratings-measurement company comScore. Google, meanwhile, was satisfyingly growing its market share to 45.1% last month — up from 37.6% one year ago.
Microsoft and McCann have decided to place the ad, in full-page form, in influential opinion-shaping print venues such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Jose Mercury News.
They take pains to emphasize features like Windows Liveâ€™s image search, local search, and mapping tools. Frankly, these donâ€™t add up to too innovative a package to me.
But the confessional mode is what caught my eye most â€“ and prompted my wanting to report on it. The ad says openly:
“Before we begin, let us state the obvious. We’re late to the game. We admit it. But instead of shrugging our shoulders and becoming a footnote in search history, we’ve decided to write a few new chapters.â€
I guess it could work. Avis car-rental has made a fairly successful fetish out of being No 2. Can Bill Gates win out by admitting to being No 3?