Practical Ecommerce

Quick Query: Microsoft Bing Exec “Maniacally Focused”

Microsoft launched its new search engine, Bing, on June 3, 2009, and many observers consider it an improvement over Microsoft’s previous search engine platforms. We were curious about how Bing differs from Google, and the advantages of advertising on Bing over other search engines. To learn more, we recently spoke with Dave Wascha, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Bing Shopping.

PeC: Are search engine optimization efforts for Bing different than for Google?

Dave Wascha

Dave Wascha

Wascha: “They are not fundamentally different from Google. In fact, if people have submitted their site maps for Live Search [Microsoft’s previous search engine] already, there is nothing new that they need to do to make sure that their sites are indexed by Bing.”

PeC: How can Bing help ecommerce merchants in ways that Google cannot?

Wascha: “We’ve introduced with Bing Shopping a new feature we call the Opinion Index, which goes out and grabs all of the reviews from thousands of sites across the web and it brings them back and aggregates them. It takes it a step further [by doing] something we call Sentiment Extraction, which can tell if something in a review is a feature, and it can also tell the sentiment [being used] to describe that feature. In terms of putting users in touch with the right product, it takes great steps in allowing that to happen.

“Now, for merchants, Bing Shopping puts customers that are ready to buy in touch with their products, but we’re also offering a couple of new things. One is Bing cashback, a program that allows merchants to give cash rebates to customers for purchasing the products that they are selling. It’s unique to Bing and we’re getting very positive feedback from the merchants that are participating, particularly when it comes to conversion rates and the size of the basket.”

PeC: How does a merchant participate in cashback?

Wascha: “You can go to the cashback site and there’s a link on the left for ‘cashback for advertisers.’ As long as you meet some simple criteria, you can upload the products that you’d like to offer as part of the program, and you’re off to the races.”

PeC: Tell us more about Bing Shopping.

Wascha: “[A categorized search tab for] Bing Shopping will take consumers right into an interface that helps them find products, sort, filter, compare prices, and ultimately transfer them to a merchant if they are actually looking to buy at that time.”

PeC: What are the pay-per-click advertising opportunities in Bing?

Wascha: “There are three opportunities for smaller merchants. The first is the search ads — the typical PPC, keyword ad, option-based process that’s available to anybody — it’s not unique to Bing Shopping.

“The second option is the typical shopping aggregation style of offer where merchants upload their products to our Bing Shopping site, and every time someone clicks on their product and we transfer our users to the merchant’s store, they pay for that click.

“The third is the cashback program where part of the price that the merchant pays goes to giving the customer a cash rebate. It’s also a CPA [cost per acquisition]-style program, as opposed to a CPC [cost per click], so it’s very low risk.”

PeC: On cashback, what percentage goes to the consumer?

Wascha: “The rebate is completely within the control of the merchants, and the maximum amount of the payment that they have available to use as a rebate for the customer is 75 percent. So, let’s say that the price per click was $1, then they have at their disposal up to $0.75 to offer as a rebate to the customer.”

PeC: Is Bing better than Google?

Wascha: “We are maniacally focused on giving customers what they want. More than half of queries people rate that they are disappointed with those results, [but] we’ve added some new functionality to Bing that we think goes a long way towards addressing some of that. One of the things is what we call categorized search. So, let’s say you put in the query ‘digital camera.’ You can sort by merchant, by brand, by characteristics of the camera, like the number of megapixels or its battery life. We think that by adding categorized search tabs we’re going to help people get to the answers that they’re looking for much more quickly, and ultimately make better decisions faster.”

PeC: Anything else on your mind for our readers today?

Wascha: “I would encourage consumers to try Bing for their queries. It’s something that we’ve put a significant amount of investment and effort in and we’re really pleased with the response we’ve seen so far and we’re really excited about continuing to attract and engage more users with it.

“Another thing would be, again, our cashback program. I would encourage merchants to sign up for cashback and participate in the program.”

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Massimo Arrigoni July 16, 2009 Reply

    I wonder how many others – like me – setup Bing as their home page just to check out the daily new, awesome photograph (and related, interesting info). In my case, My Yahoo! is my home page when I launch FireFox, whereas Bing.com is now my home page when I launch IE.

    Microsoft put a ton of effort into Bing and it shows.

    One thing – however – that could be improved is the "cashback" onboarding process. Our software (ProductCart) is integrated with Bing cashback out of the box, but one area that could be made simpler (maybe through an API) is the initial steps to get on board. Maybe Dave Wascha has some information on what’s on the roadmap in that regard. Feedback from merchants right now is that the process is too time consuming.