Bing – Microsoft’s New Search Engine
May 25, 2009
Rumors have been floating for some time that Microsoft would be rebranding its Live search engine, especially after its acquisition of Powerset last summer. Although recently leaked screenshots implied the name might be Kumo, AdAge is reporting today that the new engine will be named Bing.
Along with the rebranding comes a reported $80 million advertising campaign spanning TV, radio, print and online, created by New York’s JWT advertising agency. The ads will try to convince consumers that although they may be happy with their current search engine (i.e. Google), they don’t know how good the experience could be.
How Microsoft plans to migrate its current users to the new domain remains to be seen. Certainly they will lose some of their users in the switch, but we think the move makes a ton of sense. Here’s why:
The Live brand doesn’t work for search
There are myriad problems with live.com as a search brand, but most significant is the sheer impossibility of using Live as a verb. Although Google is also not a verb, it can be used as one: “just Google it.” Bing too is not a verb, but like Google it has no real definition, and so Microsoft won’t have a tough time appropriating it for their engine.
Microsoft already uses Live for other products
XBOX Live, Windows Live, and MSN Live Spaces are just a few of the brands under the Microsoft umbrella that use the Live brand. This makes it hard to talk about the search engine disctinctly, without calling it “Live Search.” Not only is Live Search not a particularly catchy or memorable brand, Microsoft doesn’t own LiveSearch.com. In fact the site is merely a parked domain showing Google Ads, so an $80 million dollar campaign to push “Live Search” would have the effect of driving money and users to Google.
Also, as Danny Sullivan recently pointed out, there’s no confusion that Google is a search company, but Live Search is easy to miss amongst the sea of products in the Microsoft portfolio. By giving their search engine a distinct brand like Bing Microsoft enables it to take on a life of its own.
Bing is a good brand
Bing is catchy, and reminds me of a slot machine. Its also not hard to imagine an advertising campaign based around the name, and if executed properly it could become a catchphrase. There’s no confusion about how to spell it, even to non-English speakers, and its a very short .com.
Bing’s Impact on SEO
We’re keenly interested in how Bing changes the search landscape, and the search engine optimization business. The thing we like most about SEO is that its a moving target, and a new competitor in the search space will certainly shake things up. We’ve yet to see what Microsoft has planned, but we’re expecting new vertical search opportunities and an emphasis on immediate answers.
Do you like Microsoft’s new brand? Do you think it will help Microsoft catch-up to Google and Yahoo, or is Google uncatchable? Let us know in the comments.