Increasing speculation suggests that Microsoft will overhaul its search engine strategy this week and unveil “Bing” as an all new search engine. Various sources confirm that Microsoft already registered several variations of this URL in other countries, including “bing.com.au”, “bing.co.nz” and “bing.co.uk.” Furthermore, in March, Microsoft trademarked the term Bing, which is near the time many also think they purchased the Bing.com domain, but that purchase has not yet been confirmed.
Katherine Egbert, an analyst at Jefferies & Company, says that Microsoft is planning an advertising blitz to publicize its search efforts, stating, “Microsoft is set to spend $80 million to $100 million to advertise ‘Bing’… The budget for the ad campaign suggests that Microsoft plans to go head-to-head with the Google brand.” They need to do something if they actually intend to compete with Google, which commands about 70% of all search queries, while Microsoft currently serves less than 9% of searches, a number that has been shrinking. However, advertising alone cannot ensure success, as learned by those behind Cuil, the last new search engine to receive significant media and advertising exposure. Unfortunately for everyone involved, users decided it was not so cuil after all.
Is Yahoo on Microsoft’s Agenda?
Several sources indicate that just last week Microsoft registered a limited liability company (LLC) in Delaware, a move that often precedes acquisitions or joint ventures. Microsoft also raised $3.75 billion in its first-ever debt offering this month. Coincidence? “The timing of the registration and recent debt raise indicate to us that it might be more likely Microsoft uses the LLC to force a partnership or to boost the amount of traffic flowing through its search engine,” wrote Katherine Egbert in a note released Tuesday.
The newly registered LLC could be the precursor to a Yahoo! deal. Just yesterday, when questioned about a possible Microsoft alliance, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz confirmed ongoing Microsoft-Yahoo talks and stated, “if there’s boatloads of money, and there’s the right technology, and the information we would have to have, then yeah… it’s that simple.” Of course, there is also speculation that Microsoft is interested in various other potential acquisitions as well.
So what does Bing promise to bring? Well, that remains to be seen. In the meantime, we’ll see if Microsoft can first push Bing.com’s traffic past that received by bingo.com or even bingcrosby.com, each currently receiving considerably more traffic than Microsoft’s new proposed venture (view stats). To date, Microsoft’s search platforms failed to achieve wide public appeal, with Google basically controlling the market. Microsoft is desperately trying to challenge Google’s dominance. Is Bing the answer? And will Yahoo somehow be part of it? Internet history and the search marketing landscape continues to evolve and develop before our very eyes.