Stealing shoppers: Bing creates ad campaign highlighting Google’s policy of charging vendors to appear in results

Micah Benson | Art Director

Microsoft has a declared a new Scrooge this holiday season: Google.

In a new advertisement on Microsoft’s search engine Bing, Google is targeted as another corrupt mega-corporation.

The advertisement reads “Don’t get Scroogled this holiday season,” in reference to a change in Google’s policy. Vendors must now pay to have their products appear in search results under Google Shopping, which compiles deals and vendors, CNN reported on Nov. 29.

Bing created an entire website dedicated to highlighting Google’s new policy. Google announced the change on May 31 and the changes were implemented in the United States on Oct. 17, CNN reported.

The trend of search engines utilizing advertisements is nothing new, said Jill Hurst-Wahl, an associate professor in the School of Information Studies.

Both Bing and Google search results contain products that vendors pay to list, but Google search results are now exclusively made up of paid listings. Bing said the majority of its results are free listings, CNN reported.

“This is a part of business,” Hurst-Wahl said. “Every search engine is trying to get you information towards the top that they believe is relevant.”

The Bing website and advertisement campaign against being “Scroogled” said Google is now running a commercialized search with vendors bidding for the top spot in the search results.

“For an honest search result, try Bing,” the advertisement reads.

Bing wants Google to make this new “pay to rank” system more visible to consumers or eliminate the practice altogether, CNN reported.

To optimize the results, Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines all use unique algorithms, which view different factors as more important, Hurst-Wahl said.

Google is now including how much a vendor bids in this algorithm, along with search terms and other factors. To overcome the issue of “pay to rank,” an online shopper can sort the listings by price to ensure the best deals, CNN reported.

This Bing advertisement campaign may not have much of an effect, Hurst-Wahl said.

“Bing will just be complaining to their own people,” she said. “It doesn’t sound like it will make a huge difference.”

Currently, Google sites have 66.4 percent of the search engine market share compared to Microsoft sites, which have 15.9 percent, according to Aug. 2012 comScore rankings.

More shoppers are spending money on Google, rather than Bing, which may have motivated Bing to use this advertisement, Hurst-Wahl said.

“This is just competition,” said Edward Gulino, a freshman economics major. “This is not a government-run operation; Google is a business that needs to make money.”

Using advertisements on search engines is nothing new or unethical, he said.

Said Gulino: “This is how capitalism works.”


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