I have had several clients contact me today regarding the Bill Gates announcement Wednesday March 22, 2008 on the “Live Search cashback” program, and I thought I would delay my scheduled Blog on Google Phrase Match to give you the inside skinny.

PPC AdvertisingThe bottom line here is that Microsoft plans to pay visitors who search and then buy products through Microsoft’s Live Search engine. More specifically, we are talking about Microsoft’s comparison-shopping engine appropriately known as MSN Shopping.

According to Microsoft, “The program rewards consumers with a cash back rebate for a purchase, and gives advertisers the opportunity to sell on a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) basis.”

This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has offered a “Cash for Search” incentive to consumers. For several months in 2006 the company offered almost $1 million in prizes for keyword searches, as well as a rewards program last summer. During both of these periods Microsoft’s search market share increased.

Ironically similar to Google Product Search, Microsoft Shopping also allows advertisers to upload their product database in an XML feed. Inclusion is completely free, and there are no charges for uploading your items or charges for the traffic you receive. However, if you join the BETA testing of “Live Search cashback” then you will most certainly pay a Cost-Per-Action every time somebody buys your product.

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to pay for traffic that I can get for free?”

Funny, this is the same question that I heard back when PPC Advertising came in to play.
Still, it is a good question.

The answer is competition. If your competition is offering the same exact product, however it comes with a nice cash back incentive, guess who’s going to get the sale.

According to Microsoft, some big ecommerce players have already opted into the BETA program including eBay, Sears, and Barnes & Noble.

If you would like to qualify to advertise with Live Search cashback advertisers must be:

  • Headquartered in the United States
  • A retail site with e-commerce capabilities
  • Able to fulfill the physical shipment of a product
  • Able to create and maintain a product data feed
  • Able to implement a standard tracking pixel on your website’s order confirmation page

BETA programs are not right for everybody, and depending on your business model this program may or may not be right for you. JumpFly has dedicated representatives at all of the major search engines including Microsoft and we can help advise you on the requirements and possible pitfalls of these type of programs.