By Jim Clanin
Google still holds the lead in search. Yahoo! is a distant second. Microsoft has languished in an even farther third place for as long as we can remember. It looks as though they will be putting a big push on to show why their new engine is different. At present, Microsoft is not a major focus for any of the SEO Services we’re doing with our clients. We’ll keep our eye on them to see if the new engine merrits a change in offering mix.
Can Microsoft market its way out of the search basement? Probably not, but it’s going to try, entrusting roster agency JWT to craft a campaign for its new search engine, alternately dubbed Kumo or Project Kiev or Live Search, depending on who’s talking about it.
Several screenshots of the interface have been circulating in the blogosphere, and an internal memo about the changes from Microsoft search chief Satya Nadella was posted by AllThingsD. The service is being tested and is expected to make its debut in the summer.
Industry executives expect JWT, part of WPP, to unveil an estimated $80 million to $100 million push for the new search engine in June, with online, TV, print and radio executions. Microsoft spent $361 million on U.S. measured media in 2008, the bulk of it devoted to brand advertising and smaller chunks to other Microsoft brands such as Xbox and MSN, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.
Regardless, the marketing will be an uphill battle. Microsoft’s search engine has languished in third place and has seen its share of the category drop in the past year. Its declined almost 15% from February 2008 to February 2009, when it captured 8.2% of all consumer searches. During the same period, Google grew its share 7% to 63.3%, and Yahoo was up 5% to 20.6% share, according to ComScore.
The losses in share occurred despite Microsoft’s trying some interesting tactics intended to goose usage. Last year, for example, it launched Live Search CashBack, which essentially offered consumers cash discounts when they bought products they had searched for using Live Search.