Microsoft Ditches Bing Cashback
Due to poor reception, Microsoft is getting rid of Bing Cashback, a publicity stunt meant to encourage web users to use Bing search engine by giving them rebates on products searched through it.
The decision did not come as a surprise to many considering that few people knew what Bing Cashback (formerly called Microsoft Live Cashback) was about two years after it was launched. Industry observers say the lukewarm reception must have been due to Microsoft’s failure to drum up enough publicity for the program or that the rebate amount wasn’t attractive enough.
“In lots of ways, this was a great feature – we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for,” wrote Yusuf Mehdi on Bing’s community board. Mehdi is Microsoft’s senior vice president for online audience business group.
Mehdi said July 30, 2010 would be the last day that users could earn rebates from Bing Cashback, but users have one year to redeem their rebates. For more updates about this feature, check out the Bing Cashback FAQ.
The concept of Bing Cashback seemed simple enough: Web users would search products using the Bing search engine, purchase the ones with the coin icon, and they would be entitled to rebates. Before they could take advantage of Microsoft’s Cashback offer, however, users must first register for the program.
The rebates would show up as pending in the user’s Cashbank account within 48 hours after the transaction was made, but it would take about 60 days after the product was purchased and shipped before the money could be withdrawn. When the minimum Cashback amount of $5.00 is reached, the user may request a check or have the money deposited into her bank account, Paypal or Amazon Payments account.
With Bing Cashback soon out of the picture, Bing’s user base might considerably decline. Some Bing converts were vocal enough to admit that the only reason they made the shift was the Cashback feature.
“Nooooooooooooo... keep Bing alive,” a user wrote on Bing’s community board.
“This is really bad news. I changed my default search engine at home and work to Bing because of (the) Cashback. Please reconsider!” another user commented.
Microsoft had high hopes for Bing as potential Google killer when it was unveiled in May 2009. In February this year, Bing posted an all-time high market share of 12.5 percent. Still, the neophyte search engine was trailing behind the undisputed king of search engines, Google (65.2 percent), as well as Yahoo (14.1 percent), which occupied second place.
Microsoft calls Bing a “decision engine” because of its ability to refine results and present related topics. The glossy and trendy interface was meant to appeal to young web users without necessarily turning off the older set.
To some users, however, the deciding factor would still be the number of search results an engine can generate. Google wins in this area hands down. The search engine giant is also fast and lightweight.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leonor Albino writes for Schooley Mitchell Telecom Consultants, North America's largest independent telecom consulting company.