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Scroogled: Bing and Google’s War Gets Heated

by Chris Horton

Bing turned up the heat on Google with their new advertising campaign telling customers that if they buy ads on Google Adwords network that they’re getting “Scroogled“.

Scroogled – verb
1. The Google practice of selling their shopping search results to a high bidder; known to produce intense anger in online shoppers who might miss out on the best price or the highest quality items.
2. Because Google Shopping only includes results from advertisers who pay them, some of the world’s largest retailers aren’t included.
3. The loss of money associated with a bad Google Shopping search result. Side effects of not getting the best price when you thought you were include sadness, frustration and overall indignation.
See also: bamboozled; befuddled; duped; flimflammed; hoodwinked; hornswoggled
Sample sentence: “These jeans were a top pick on Google but I found a better price–I’ve been Scroogled!”

The campaign which is housed at http://scroogled.com takes several swipes at Google Adwords by using multiple quotes from Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page culled from past interviews to show how advertising is skewed and “not good for the consumers”. The Brin and Page quotes included in the Scroogled campaign include;

  • For this type of reason and historical experience with other media, we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.”
  • “But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.”
  • “In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want.”

The Scroogled campaign then takes quotes from The New York Times including these;

  • “The relationship between Google and Web sites, publishers and advertisers often seems lopsided, if not unfair.”
  • “But Google is walking a tricky line, which antitrust regulators are watching closely.”

And to add insult to injury in order to avoid the accusations of taking quotes out of context, Bing then pulled statements from Google‘s IPO letters, SEC filings and disclosures including;

  • Founders IPO Letter: “we do not accept payment for [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating.”
  • Google’s 2004 SEC Filing: “Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them.”
  • Google’s 2012 SEC Disclosure: “After all, ads are just more answers to users’ queries.”

They then top it off with a How Google Does It” PDF and the cherry on top, a Scroogled video;

It’s should be obvious to anyone that Bing is ready to play hard ball (as they have been for years now) and that they now feel that there is enough negative press currently to support this “Scroogled” effort. Bing does a lot to show how badly Google is handling paid advertising, but doesn’t do that thorough of a job proving how they do it better.

The truth is that there are always going to be complaints no matter what system you use. You either don’t have enough money to compete in highly competitive arenas or you have to spend an inordinate amount of time building up your site’s relevancy in order to perform well under the mysterious umbrella of Google’s Quality Score. And if you do the latter well enough, you’ll start appearing organically anyway which then negates a major part of the reason why people opt for Adwords in the first place (unless they’re shooting for the “trifecta”).  Bing needs to shift focus and show their advantages instead of spending so much time focusing on Google‘s disadvantages.
Google versus Bng

But while most of the campaign focuses on Google Adwords, the true battle continues to rage on as to which is truly the better search engine. Independent blind studies continue to show that people actually prefer Bing‘s search results over Google‘s. Bing has tried arduously to prove this with their “Bing It On” comparison tool where people can do random searches side by side and see just how many times they choose Bing over Google SERPs. Bing continually wins the studies, but still no one listens.

My own study had Bing as the winner 3 out of 5 times and I also randomly asked 4 others to try it and achieved the same result. Google didn’t win any of the contests. The same results also occurred from a study by Dave Davies on Search Engine Watch, where he too, ended up handing Bing the gold medal.

Even amid some of the Bing is copying Google” scandals and Bing’s adamant denial of the situation, Bing continues to prove that their results are not only better than Google‘s, but that people also agree in blind tests.

All being said, Bing seems to have a winning formula for search results that work (and are proven) and paid advertising that they feel is more “fair and balanced”. Now the trick is figuring how just how far they need to go to get people to actually listen.

What are your thoughts on Bing versus Google?

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