Microsoft’s Bing ads and the logic of a decision engine

It would seem that a part of that massive $100 million that Microsoft has earmarked for the advertising campaign for Bing has started to flow. so far there have been three commercials that have surfaced and like the guys over at I wasn’t impressed at all with the first one but the two follow-up ads begin to show the direction that the campaign could be headed.

They also to a certain extent explain the logic behind the idea of reframing Bing as a decision engine rather than just another search engine. The fact is that Microsoft, or any other company for that matter, would have very little success competing against Google on the search engine turf. Google owns “search” – that there is no denying and attempting to even try and dethrone them from that spot would be nigh impossible at this point in time.

So what Microsoft smartly did was probably ask themselves how could they change the terms of the battle. Instead of fighting over “search” what could they do to rephrase the question in the minds of the consumers. In light of the company’s recent success with their Laptop Hunter ad campaign Microsoft saw how this rephrasing of the question could be successful. In that campaign rather than attacking Apple on the perception of quality of products they went straight for the pocketbook. It didn’t hurt that we are also going through economic hard times but sometimes fortune shines on the daring and in this case timing was everything for Microsoft.

When it came to search though the battlefield was different as there were no price comparisons that could be made. So where was the chink in the search armor that Microsoft could possibly make the greatest headway?

Well it turns out that it may be as simple as terminology. After all what is it we use search for in the first place?

We use it primarily to find information upon which we can make decisions. Is that the product we want based on all the relevant information about that product. Is that the piece of information we need for the point we are trying to make? The problem with search engines is the vast number of results that can sometimes be returned – even with an advanced search query. Once you’ve gat that list of results you then have to wade through them all clicking on possible links to get the actual information.

Where I think Microsoft came at it differently was acknowledging this “decision” generating aspect of search and asked how can we make this easier for the consumer.? How can we possibly present the consumer with enough data on the results page so that they don’t have to click through unless they are sure that the item fits what they were looking for? How do we help the consumer make those “informed” decisions easily and quickly?

In other words rather than asking how can we make search better they started asking how can we help you make your decisions easier to do. So rather than framing Bing as just another search engine Microsoft based what they were doing on this idea of helping the consumer in a decision making process. Hence their “decision-engine”

Will this prove to be the right idea?

Well given that their ad campaign is being based around the idea that search has become just another case of information overload, or as they call it – search overload, they just might have found a winning niche. Only time will tell I guess if the fortunes will smile on them the same way it did with Laptop Hunters. In the meantime here’s the two newest ads of their search overload campaign – you decide for yourself if you think the campaign will work in changing the framing of the question.

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