Bing! Bang! Bust! Advertising Fail?

Sometime during the night, the bit in the story that I mentioned yesterday referring to the reported $100,000,000.00 that Microsoft spent to promote Bing! resurfaced. Here’s the quote:

    But after spending a reported $100 million to market Bing, Microsoft may now need to find new ways to pump up interest in its search engine.

Then I remembered Microsoft’s advertising theme: that Bing! was a decison engine, whatever that is (warning: the site at the link starts playing a multimedia advertisement without asking permission.)

And I thought back over my searches the past week.

Not a single one had to do with making a decision.

Which led me to wonder: Is it that Microsoft’s Marketing Department doesn’t understand how persons use search engines or is it that Microsoft as a whole doesn’t understand how persons use search engines? Or did they just waste a lot of money on a lousy ad campaign?

This is what I remembered last night:

The most recent search I did was for Teri Garr. We watched Young Frankenstein last night and wondered what had happened to her.

My previous search was for a menu of a restaurant–not to decide what restaurant I wanted to go to, but to find out what kind of food they served at what prices.

I cannot remember a search I did in the past week to help me make a decision. All my searches were for information, either because I was curious about something or someone (like the Teri Garr search) or because I had made a decision and needed information to make it happen (like this search for a location of a store which had something we wanted that we saw advertised in a newspaper–remember newspapers?).

This is not to say I’ve never used a search engine to help me gather facts to make decisions. It is to say that that is a very small factor in my usage.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a “typical” computer user. Typical computer users don’t write BASH scripts and schedule cron jobs.

My friend is probably much more typical: she can make the Windows programs she uses regularly jump through hoops and do somersaults along the way, but I can’t ween her away from Microsoft Internet Destroyer.

She knows her way around her My Documents folder the way Daniel Boone knew his way around Kentucky, but, looking at a terminal (that’s “command window” in Windows-ese) I had opened on one of my Linux computers, she decided it was indecipherable–and all it was showing were some directory listings and copy commands. (Aside: She could easily understand that stuff; she’s just never needed to.)

Nevertheless, when she searches for stuff, she searches for the same reasons I do: to satisfy curiosity or to find additional information. She doesn’t use a search engine to try to make decisions for her.

(Aside: I’m not surprised Bing! is taking users from Yahoo. By attempting to remake itself into a portal, Yahoo has become a cluttered mess. And that’s just the homepage.)

About Frank