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Microsoft Issues Blind Test Challenge: Bing Is Better Than Google

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Netizens can now test for themselves whether they prefer Bing or Google.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Remember those classic Pepsi (PEP) challenge ads, where shoppers at malls were offered blind taste tests of Pepsi and Coca-Cola (KO) soda? In those ads, those who tried both always ended up preferring Pepsi over market leader Coca-Cola.

Well, it appears Microsoft (MSFT) has taken a page out of Pepsi's book with its latest advertising campaign for Bing, its search engine rival to Google (GOOG).

The campaign is titled "Bing It On," and on its website, users can input search keywords and see results from Bing and Google displayed side-by-side, without any indication of which side is Google's results and which side is Bing's. A user can then vote to decide which side's search results are more accurate, before he or she is prompted to try the next search keyword. After five blind search tests, the site then reveals whether the user preferred Bing or Google overall.

The Bing team explains its choice of a 'blind search test' campaign in a post on its official blog:

Why did we think a blind comparison test of the pure web search results would be valuable? Because it is the best way to really test the quality of web search results where the majority of clicks occur – without the influence of the ingrained, habitual impact of the Google brand. Now you know there is a better alternative to Google.

They have a point: Google's stranglehold on web search is so strong that using the phrase "to google" to imply using an online search engine has pretty much become de rigueur in everyday life.

Microsoft also notes that it commissioned an independent research team to study whether people preferred Google or Bing, and the team reported that among the 1,000 respondents, Bing's results are preferred over Google's by two of every three searchers. The fine print on the Bing It On website says that the results were "based on a comparison of web search results pane only; excludes ads, Bing's Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google's Knowledge Graph."

Several media outlets have taken out Bing's challenge, with varying results. The Christian Science Monitor says Bing was better, while InformationWeek and CNet give the edge to Google. The Atlantic Wire, however, found that it was a tie.

Since Microsoft rebranded its search engine to Bing in 2009, it has embarked on an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign to help Bing gain market share over Google.

Besides advertising campaigns such as this one, Bing has also tried to market Bing as a cool search engine for the young by buying product placements in youth-friendly movies like The Amazing Spider-Man and TV shows like Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries.

Additionally, Microsoft likely spent a large sum of money to land a spot as the default search engine for Amazon's (AMZN) latest Kindle Fire, ousting Google, which claimed the spot in the first generation Kindle Fire. Given that the new Kindle Fire looks set to be a hit among consumers, Bing should stand a good chance for gaining some market share in the near future.

Currently, Bing has about 15% of US search share, although that rises to 28% when you factor in Bing-powered Yahoo's (YHOO) US share. Google, meanwhile, has a market-dominating 66% share.

Twitter: @sterlingwong
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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