It’s a holiday campaign to top all holiday campaigns. Microsoft is accusing Google of dis-honest search results within Google’s Shopping platform. The bitter battle between the two tech giants has just ramped up just in time for Christmas.
Bing has launched a website called Scroogled, and it was developed to take aim at Google’s shopping paid ads system. Bing’s campaign hopes to explain to consumers the risks of Google Shopping’s newly announced ‘pay-to-rank’ practice.
Earlier this year, Google had announced it would be overhauling its product search to become a shopping service with paid listings. This move eliminated some big merchants like Amazon for example, who opted not to pay. In the US, Google’s transition to pay-to-rank took effect on October 17, with the same model expected to roll in February 2013 for Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia and Switzerland.
Basically, Microsoft is accusing Google of some serious back-peddling by going back on their word. On the Scroogled site, located at the very top of the page, Bing displays certain quotes from Google’s IPO Letter and SEC Filing made back in 2004, with new updated statements for comparison made in 2012.
From 2004: “We do not accept payment for [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating,” says a statement from the founders IPO letter.
Another statement from Google’s 2004 SEC Filing:
“Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them.”
Then from 2012:
Google Commerce 2012 announces shopping results will be paid for and exclude merchants who don’t participate.
Microsoft is claiming that “Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results.” Microsoft is also calling on Google to stop the ‘pay-to-rank’ system and give shoppers an honest search result. However, Google maintains that merchants cannot pay to improve their search results.
Microsoft is promoting its campaign both online and offline, and hoping to convince consumers to question Google’s actions and to make the switch to Bing for ‘honest search results.’ Microsoft’s campaign even has commercials scheduled to air on CNN and other large networks.
However, Danny Sullivan who is an analyst with the website Search Engine Land; has said the Microsoft campaign is a “great campaign, if it were true. It’s not. Bing itself does the same thing it accuses Google of.”
Sullivan recently told AFP that “at least Google has the fine print that you can read; Microsoft doesn’t have it at all.” Sullivan also explained that Microsoft (Bing) also excludes new merchants from search results if they don’t pay for inclusion with its partner, Shopping.com; something that is not fully transparent with consumers.
Sullivan states that “payment is a factor in ranking”, with Bing; and that Microsoft’s campaign is misleading.
Microsoft has claimed that its shopping results are not influenced by payment.
“While merchants can pay fees for inclusion on our third party shopping sites and subsequently may appear in Bing Shopping through partnerships we have, we do not rank merchants higher based on who pays us, nor do we let merchants pay to have their product offers placed higher in Bing Shopping’s search results,” said Stefan Weitz senior director at Bing.
Sullivan went on to say that Google is only adopting the same policies most shopping sites already have. He also said the Google may have moved to paid listings in order to block attention from regulators, who in the past have complained about Google skewing its search results.