Microsofts Incentives for Search

Emily Creech - October 6, 2008

As most of us are aware, Google is the leader in terms of search market share. Regardless of where you look, this is the case. Although Google has held this lead strong for quite some time, it appears that Microsoft is trying to catch up by offering incentive-based programs in hopes of attracting more searchers.

Initiating these types of programs is not a new tactic for Microsoft.   MSN’s Search and Win, Live Search Club, Search and Give, and Live Search Cashback are few of their previous programs.   Their latest program is called SearchPerks.   SearchPerks is essentially a point system where users can earn “tickets” based on the number of searches conducted.

So how does it work?   To begin, a “Perk Counter” must be downloaded. This Perk Counter is designed to track search activity and award “tickets” for the number of searches performed on Microsoft’s Windows Live, MSN or Live Search. (A maximum of 25 tickets can be earned in a day.) One thing to note is that the actual search queries and the websites visited are not tracked.

At the end of the program, searchers have the opportunity to trade in their tickets and redeem prizes. These prizes vary based on the number of points accumulated. By simply participating in the program, the searcher will initially receive 500 tickets.

There are, however, a few drawbacks to the SearchPerks program. First, it requires a Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, and a Windows PC.   Secondly, it may entice searchers to consider Live Search for their immediate searching needs, but will it make this their search engine of choice in the log run?   What will happen when Microsoft stops offering incentives? Lastly, what about those who participate in the program and just type random characters into the query box in an effort to receive more tickets?

Microsoft has acknowledged that SearchPerks is not designed to actually keep searchers searching. Instead, the primary goal of the program is to create awareness about Live Search, to introduce the search engine to new users, and to build loyalty. Overtime, they would of course like to see searcher’s behaviors and perception of Live Search shift in their favor.

My curiosity regarding the program’s limitations with regard to browser compatibility as well as my question about random characters counting as searches still remain. It will be interesting to see how yet another incentive-based program for Microsoft turns out.

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