All Things oDesk
July 2, 2009 by Guest Blogger

bizgraphMicrosoft’s $100 million ad spend seems to have done a great job so far in attracting interest and search queries to their new search engine, Bing.  In terms of recent market share, many search industry data sources are reporting as much as a 50% gain in market share for Bing, from about 8% of search queries to about 12%.  According to figures from, that equates to roughly 550 million additional queries.  If we use standard web ad metrics, this equates to a cost/click of $.20 (divide $100,000,000 spend by 550,000,000 queries).  Nice job on the ad buy, Microsoft. You’ve generated buzz and also driven a very significant amount of searchers to Bing.

Can this trend hold? We think not. Microsoft’s history in online, in our opinion, is one of playing a game of catch-up, and generally playing it poorly.  When it comes to the Internet, Microsoft copies others’ efforts, and usually does quite a mediocre job of it. Bing is no different – they have copied Google’s search page almost exactly.  Even the color of the premium sponsored ads at the top of the page are shaded orange, just as


Google’s are.  But one doesn’t need to look for long to see the silliness of Microsoft to shine through.  A sponsored ad goes to three lines long and looks amateurish (screenshot at right).  The #2 organic result for the query ‘php developers’ is for the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is billed as “your source for information about using PHP with Yahoo! Web Services APIs."  It would be a very, very small minority of searchers for this phrase that would care about this specific topic, yet it’s the second result.

We think that the buzz will die down, and Bing’s market share will trend back toward where it has been. If, in the unlikely event were to grab and keep a large share of the search market, advertisers would be much, much worse off.  This is because pay-per-click marketing is a self-service activity.  The advertiser interface provided by the search platform is key to enabling the advertiser to use thorough PPC management techniques to achieve positive ROI on a worthwhile scale.  Google does a brilliant job at this, and yet it strives all the harder to improve its advertiser interface.  Microsoft’s AdCenter interface is laughably bad.  I considered not using “laughably” as an adjective here, but decided I had to, for truth in blogging. In addition to an overall horrible interface, AdCenter’s conversion tracking system is unable to report on revenue from e-commerce transactions.

A related question: guess who constitutes a major category of keyword advertisers? Drumroll…that’s right – e-commerce companies.


Terry Whalen is a certified Google AdWords Professional and a partner at CPC Search. Since early 2003, he has managed search and other online marketing channels that have generated millions of dollars worth of revenue for clients such as, CitrixOnline,,, Taleo, and Pacific Security Capital, among others.


  • Terry Whalen

    Hi Corneliu,

    You are right - I am a Google addict - they are really good at what they do in terms of relevance and user experience.

    I've actually been spending more time with Bing for the last 3+ weeks since I wrote this post, and - despite myself - I have come to rather like Bing. For the record, a friend that works at MSN adCenter pointed out that the (seemingly poor) yahoo php developer network result that was #2 when I searched on 'yahoo developers' was actually the #4 result on Google for the same search query. So, to be clear, Bing is still pretty new, and my opinion of Bing has improved in the interim.

    Having said that, I still don't think Bing will take any meaningful share from Google - but that's conjecture - time will tell.

    If you have used AdWords and adCenter I don't think you can disagree that there is no comparison. We can and do manage ppc campaigns using adCenter, but it is tedious and frustrating experience. So, that is a big issue for advertisers. In relative terms, I think adCenter will very likely be a less-efficient interface for advertisers for a long time to come.

    Lastly, it's a small point but the 'broken ad' has nothing to do with how the advertiser wrote the ad - it has only to do with how microsoft displays the ad. Of course this was not my "main concern," it was just something that was prominent on a bing results page so seemed worth calling out.

    Thanks for your comments - it's feedback like yours that has encouraged me to take a 2nd (and 3rd, 4th & 5th) look at Bing with a less-jaundiced eye!

  • Corneliu

    Well, I have to say that you really used your chance to prove that you are a Google addict and that's where you stopped. I guess it's good to get one more extra link to your site.
    Anyway, I've used to use Google for a long time but since Bing was released I have to say my experience was more than positive.
    A simple page like Image search is superbly done compared to Google's. Oh, in 2 months Google will do the same virtual-endless scrolling and everyone will give them another stamp for "innovation".
    How about integration with products searches and prices, and page tooltip on the result links to help you better understand if that link is the one you were looking for?
    But I guess your main issue is that you can