Did you know the following about Google? Whenever anyone does a Google search by way of its eponymous website they get a set of search results that show up regardless of whether or not the entity has ever paid Google to be included in a search. True, a particular entity may also show up as part of a paid keyword, but this isn't the case for any results that show up in the general results listing. Bing, of course works the same way. Of course, yes, you know this.
But let's now add a twist, and suppose that we head over to Google's "Shopping" search results. Ah, the game changes, because in order to show up in a Google search on its shopping site, an entity has to actually pay Google money to appear in the search results. The odds are probably pretty good that you did not know this little fact. Not that Google doesn't make note of it - it does so at the bottom of the results page: "Google is compensated by these merchants. Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results." And it pops up the same message if a user clicks on "Why These Products?" at the top of the search page.
It turns out that the same is not true of Microsoft's Bing.
When you conduct shopping-centric searching on Bing you get the entire set of search results. Microsoft does not accept payments to be included in its shopping results, and Microsoft wants to make sure the entire world knows of it, now that we are in the middle of the full-fledged holiday buying season and shopping season.
To do so Microsoft is launching today a full-on TV and newspaper ad marketing blitz and campaign. Want to be sure you understand what this is all about? Have you been "Scroogled" yet? Yes, there is a website to tell you all about it.
Will the Scroogle ad blitz effort make any difference whatsoever to current search market dynamics? Probably not, but we confess that we like that Microsoft is showing off both a bit of mano-a-mano effort here and is doing so with a bit of humor attached to the whole thing.
Google, of course, believes that its approach of charging vendors for the privilege of appearing in its shopping searches refines the search process and gives consumers a much better set of results to work with. There is probably truth in this, but it nevertheless goes against the grain of what Google was founded on - pure, unbiased and "untainted in any way whatsoever" search results. Pay to play significantly changes the rules here, and though Google tells you, it certainly doesn’t tell you in a way that clearly spells it out up front.
Let us know what you think about this - are you in favor of being Scroogled or is Google right in thinking that you prefer the bias in the results?
Edited by Brooke Neuman